University Study: Wind and solar can fully power the electric grid 99.9% of time… at same cost we pay now — “These results break the conventional wisdom” -Professor

Published: December 12th, 2012 at 11:49 am ET


Title: Wind and solar power paired with storage could power grid 99.9 percent of the time
Source: Science Daily
Date: Dec. 10, 2012
h/t TreeHugger

Renewable energy could fully power a large electric grid 99.9 percent of the time by 2030 at costs comparable to today’s electricity expenses, according to new research by the University of Delaware and Delaware Technical Community College.

A well-designed combination of wind power, solar power and storage in batteries and fuel cells would nearly always exceed electricity demands while keeping costs low, the scientists found.

“These results break the conventional wisdom that renewable energy is too unreliable and expensive,” said co-author Willett Kempton, professor in the School of Marine Science and Policy in UD’s College of Earth, Ocean, and Environment. “The key is to get the right combination of electricity sources and storage — which we did by an exhaustive search — and to calculate costs correctly.”

The authors developed a computer model to consider 28 billion combinations of renewable energy sources and storage mechanisms, each tested over four years of historical hourly weather data and electricity demands. […]

One of several new findings is that a very large electric system can be run almost entirely on renewable energy.

“For example, using hydrogen for storage, we can run an electric system that today would meeting a need of 72 GW, 99.9 percent of the time, using 17 GW of solar, 68 GW of offshore wind, and 115 GW of inland wind,” said co-author Cory Budischak, instructor in the Energy Management Department at Delaware Technical Community College and former UD student. […]

The study sheds light on what an electric system might look like with heavy reliance on renewable energy sources. Wind speeds and sun exposure vary with weather and seasons, requiring ways to improve reliability. In this study, reliability was achieved by: expanding the geographic area of renewable generation, using diverse sources, employing storage systems, and for the last few percent of the time, burning fossil fuels as a backup. […]

Read study here

See also: [intlink id=”shutting-down-enenews-com” type=”post”]{{empty}}[/intlink]

Published: December 12th, 2012 at 11:49 am ET


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46 comments to University Study: Wind and solar can fully power the electric grid 99.9% of time… at same cost we pay now — “These results break the conventional wisdom” -Professor

  • 16Penny 16Penny

    AND 0 nuke plants! Finally a sensible equation for the future!

    I would tweak their model a bit but I think they have made a great point.

    For starters I would add algae production (stores solar naturally) and biofuels to the mix, and anaerobic digestion.

    Great to see hydrogen being used for storage, stuffs a sock in the anti wind mouths. Also Hydrogen is much safer than battery storage from an environmental point of view.

    I also wonder if they included consumer battery ownership in their financial model. Smart grids can use energy costumer's own batteries (like in electric cars) as energy storage buffers as well. This assumption would reduce capital costs of the grid design.

    • 16Penny 16Penny

      Anaerobic digestion and thermal depolymerization are two great ways to recoup energy that is in the waste stream. I wish next time someone designs a green city they incorporate these energy systems and show what is really able to be done today with current technology. The argument that energy storage is a problem with renewable energy sources is broken and only holds true if you can't grasp the paradigm shift which is happening.

      • Dr. Anne Lee Tomlinson Maziar anne

        I think cataclysmic said that we've had the technology for 40 years to get rid of fossil fuels and nuclear to generate electricity. It is pitiful that we haven't yet switched over entirely to wind and solar. There are fancier models for the technology now, but we had that technology 40 years ago and could have avoided Chernobyl and Fukushima and the next accident waiting to happen.

        Why is the US government continuing to subsidize nuclear energy and fossil fuel energy? Pure unadulterated corruption, passing money from the poor to the rich. Taking power and self sufficiency from the people and turning it over to the lazy elite.

    • AGreenRoad AGreenRoad


      Renewable Energy Usage And Costs Compared To Nuclear And Coal; via A Green Road

  • NoNukes NoNukes

    Yes, but do solar panels produce plutonium for weapons?

  • m a x l i

    “These results break the conventional wisdom that renewable energy is too unreliable and expensive,” said co-author Willett Kempton, professor in the School of Marine Science and Policy in UD’s College of Earth, Ocean, and Environment."

    This demonstrates that even for a professor it is not easy to understand the difference between wisdom and propaganda.

    • Cataclysmic Cataclysmic

      I would say especially for a professor, and or student.. I have noticed that higher education facilities are a conduit for cover ups. They teach everybody the "truth" as the supporters of the University want them to be. Check the sponsors of the schools these people went to along the way.. GE anybody?

      I tell people that I know at University to check the donors and seek answers..observe your surroundings, and if it doesn't make sense, as Judge Judy always says, "IT IS BECAUSE IT IS NOT TRUE"

      Another excellent reason that all gifts to Higher learning must not have strings..OR another corporate welfare program.. they give to the University, then get a big tax break.. wow.. WIN WIN RIGHT???

      Government should present a problem to the Universities and award solutions that serve the greater good.

      • m a x l i

        Yes… But it seems you are in dire need of some higher education to become better at not understanding the world around you! Where will we end up, if people start thinking about "the greater good"?

        • Cataclysmic Cataclysmic

          I went there maxli.. school of Hardknocks..

          I graduated with honors..

          The honor to see through the BS 🙂 and still love the "greater good" for they do not know what they do not know 😉

          oh, and I got my Master in Common Sense..

  • Sol Man

    I believe in the alternative methods that we have of generating power coupled along with the best battery technology will be able to give the world all of the spark that it needs, and if every home, business, campus had appropriately sized storage, then that would help to get through the days when the sun doesn't shine or the wind no blow. Always with conservation. And, that will be a few of the ways for us to give our progeny a livable world into the future. Otherwise, probably not.

    • Cataclysmic Cataclysmic

      my favorite

      of course, sadly, check the cozy DOE relationship, that does not bode well for the average citizen.. and surely explains the delay to market..

      I think once the corporate slave drivers find a way to perpetually continually, by the month, week, hour and minute, charge us, we will finally then and only then be able to have this "new" technology.

      If taxpayer money is used to Research, develop, or in some way sustain an industry, any industry, we, the tax payer, should get the subsidy.. why do they(the Corporation) get to go to 100% profit level without ever paying the investors back, and often continue to get other taxpayer subsidies..???

      They should pay the tax payer back plus a minimum of 30% profit, like any other JV partnership.

      • Cataclysmic Cataclysmic

        oops, didn't mean subsidies.. meant welfare or entitlement.. sorry.

        • PavewayIII PavewayIII

          Cataclysmic – what difference would the method of producing power make? We would have the exact same psychopaths running the DOE and utilities. They would figure out some way to make wind power more lethal than nuclear.

          Isn't our time better spent attempting to manage the disease rather than speculating about which organ to transplant?

          • soern

            the desease must be repelled! Right!

          • Cataclysmic Cataclysmic

            I would follow Roseanne's thinking on riding the world of psychopaths.. the guillotine, off with their heads!!! Then once we are rid of the disease, we can have our power, and not eat yellow cake too!!!

          • Dr. Anne Lee Tomlinson Maziar anne

            There's no way wind could possibly be more lethal than nuclear. You need to study up on radiation. A wind tower accident couldn't possibly emit radiation or destroy the whole world.

          • Dr. Anne Lee Tomlinson Maziar anne

            Putting in new people who use nuclear, coal, and fossil fuels are just as bad as the people in power now.

          • m a x l i

            PavewayIII said: "They would figure out some way to make wind power more lethal than nuclear."

            m a x l i says: Sometimes, I am not sure, if they already have done that, in a sense, long before nuclear power. I think of the high voltage energy grid as a standard. Nobody outside the elitist little circle of "experts" can fiddle with it, because he might get killed. But most appliances like electric lights, radio, electric motors and so on can work perfectly fine by low voltage. Look in your (in anyone's) car!

  • FukuYou FukuYou

    Unfortunately we need to be careful about getting "carried away" with wind power, so to speak. Wind seems limitless, but it actually is not, so when you take energy from the wind on a global scale you run the very real risk of disrupting the climate.

    Here is a good study that estimates maximum effective power draw from global wind resources at about 1Tw. The authors point out there will likely be problems before that point is reached.


    • soern

      it's no study, it's a summary of articles against renewables.
      Sounding impressive but the only future problem with wind energy (article solely referred to)seems to be limited economical growth of wind power investments then.
      Anyway it is too late to discuss this as we will face bigger desasters in close future if people don't wake up and start thinking.
      Stop gambling with mankind!
      Fix Fukushima first!
      If you can!

      • Dr. Anne Lee Tomlinson Maziar anne

        Fukushima wouldn't have happened if they had decommissioned the reactors after 20 or 30 years. They were never built to last over 40 years in the first place. Unit #4 had a reactor vessel that was cracked to begin with and should never have been used in the first place. Unit# 3 was never built to take MOX fuel and shouldn't have been granted a license when it was 30 years old much letting it go on after it was 40 years old.

        Because nuclear is so expensive the licenses were granted to old and faulty and deficient equipment. The whole operation at Fukushima was criminal in the first place. And the nuclear industry in every country of the world where it exists is just as criminal.

      • Dr. Anne Lee Tomlinson Maziar anne

        I guess you are talking about the oildrum link. If you follow the link to this headline, you will see that it is a single study:

        Cost-minimized combinations of wind power, solar power and electrochemical storage, powering the grid up to 99.9% of the time
        Journal of Power Sources
        Volume 225, 1 March 2013, Pages 60–74

      • Dr. Anne Lee Tomlinson Maziar anne

        We need to close down every nuclear reactor before an accident. Fukushima has already released enough radiation to destroy the world.

    • Dr. Anne Lee Tomlinson Maziar anne

      Form the oildrum?

    • Dr. Anne Lee Tomlinson Maziar anne

      Joe Rogan on Fukushima and Nuclear Power: If these reactors keep messing up, we’re going to have giant areas of our world contaminated and dead for 100,000s of years — That’s the reality we’re operating under (VIDEO)
      “Stanford professor Mark Z. Jacobson’s research shows that using current available technology, our energy needs can be met using wind, solar, and water power. And it can happen in the next couple decades.
      1. “A path to sustainable energy by 2030 (Scientific American, November 2009) (pdf).
      2. “Providing all global energy with wind, water and solar power, Part I: Technologies, energy resources, quantities and areas of infrastructure, and materials (Energy Policy, 2011) (pdf-Part I)
      3. “Providing all global energy with wind, water and solar power, Part II: Reliability, system and transmission costs, and policies (Energy Policy, 2011) (pdf-Part II)
      4. “Spreadsheet accompanying Parts I and II (xls-Spreadsheet)
      5. “Energy and Environmental Science article ranking energy solutions to global warming, air pollution, and energy security (link)
      6. “Studies on matching hourly and peak demand by combining renewables (link)
      7. “Studies on wind energy resources and transmission (link)
      8. “April 20, 2012 Tri-Agency (NSF-NOAA-NASA) PI Meeting Presentation (pptx)
      9. “November 14, 2011 HEAL Utah Presentation (pptx) (video)
      10. “May 16, 2011 Seminar, Woods Institute for the Environment (video)
      11. “February 4, 2011 Seminar, Cornell University (video)

      • Dr. Anne Lee Tomlinson Maziar anne

        12. “January 13, 2011 Stanford Grid Integration Workshop Presentation (pptx)
        13. “TED/CNN debates on renewables versus nuclear (link)
        14. “April 1, 2008 U.S. House of Representatives hearing. Rep. Jay Inslee tells Exxon-Mobil executive that the vision in the “Renewable Energy Solution to Global Warming” by the Atmosphere/Energy Program at Stanford University is “one that the United States really needs” (starting at 1:35:00 in hearing video) (video) (transcript)
        15. “February 7, 2012 op-ed (invited), “Securing public health forever with clean…”going-to-have-giant-areas-of-our-world-contaminated-and-dead-for-100000s-of-years-thats-the-reality-were-ope

    • Dr. Anne Lee Tomlinson Maziar anne

      Nuclear energy gives off Krypton-85 which gives up the terrible storms we are getting and disrupts the weather more than anything else.

      And all the radiation from all the thousands of accidents and the many, many tons of nuclear waste and the operation of all the nuclear reactors in the world are destroying the ozone layer and heating up the planet. Also all the water used to cool nuclear power plants also heats up the planet because it is extremely hot coming out of the nuclear power plant.

    • AGreenRoad AGreenRoad

      Hmmmm, so maybe we should chop down all trees, cause they slow down the 'natural' wind?

      Wind towers may have some negative effects, such as killing birds, but creating negative climate change is not one of them.

      What creates climate change is ACID carbon dioxide.

      Try breathing and drinking battery acid.

      That is where we are going… if we keep burning carbon fuels.

  • Fred

    This group of mathematically-challenged dreamers must have gone to the same university as the Chevy Volt Dreamers that think they could, with new battery technology, recharge a 20 KwH electric car battery in 10 minutes, in violation of enough laws of physics they'd be death sentenced. How funny.

    I'm as anxious to decommission all nukes as any, but the answer to the power problem is abundant coal, gas and falling water that runs 24/7/365 cheaply, not just between 10AM and 2PM on sunny days or only when the wind is blowing between 8 and 25 knots…

    • Dr. Anne Lee Tomlinson Maziar anne

      The new solar technology magnifies the sun 500 times. So you have 500 suns creating electricity.

      • Dr. Anne Lee Tomlinson Maziar anne

        Concentrated photovoltaics

        III–V multijunction solar cells for concentrating photovoltaics
        “Multijunction solar cells in CPV systems offer a low-cost, viable technology for electricity generation. Several experimental
        systems based on both point focus and dense array configurations have been developed for operation in excess of
        400 suns across the world,16,18,33 and the drive to deploy more CPV is on the horizon. In the United States, deployment
        within the next few years is expected due to the advent of federal- and state-funded solar initiative programs that are
        currently in progress to enhance the development of CPV technologies.34 These programs will allow the cell conversion
        efficiency and the PV module efficiency to be pushed to new heights, and will promote costs at the meter as low as US
        7–8¢/kWh by 2015….”

    • Dr. Anne Lee Tomlinson Maziar anne

      How Long Does it Take To Charge an Electric Car?

      “Coming soon to a garage near you: Electric vehicles! Big-name auto makers like Nissan, Ford, and Mitsubishi are scheduled for major EV releases in the next year or so, while small car makers are busy building small electric vehicles for short trips around the neighborhood. There's no question that you like the planet; and everyone knows you like new technology, too. But how long will an EV will have to be plugged into the wall before it's ready for its next silent neighborhood mission?
      “The quick answer to that question is overnight. Most EVs that will be on the market within the next few years will need to be plugged in overnight to fully charge. But the correct answer, as with so many things, is, "it depends." It depends on the type of batteries in the car and it depends “on the type of outlet you're using to charge the thing up.
      Let's take a few real-world examples:
      “The Nissan LEAF uses lithium-ion batteries, just like your laptop and your cell phone, but it uses a lot more of them. It can charge overnight (8 hours) at a 220/240-volt Nissan charging dock that's installed in your garage. It can also charge at a 110/120-volt outlet, the kind you plug your laptop and cell phone into, but it'll take far, far longer.

      • Dr. Anne Lee Tomlinson Maziar anne

        “The sexy Tesla Roadster uses lithium-ion batteries, too, but the 240-volt Tesla High Power Wall Connector, as they call it, can charge that baby in a mere 3.5 hours. But before you open your wallet, you should know that this is also one of the most expensive EVs on the road.
        “A little neighborhood electric vehicle (NEV), like the cars from GEM (Global Electric Motorcars), uses lead-acid batteries. This technology is older, proven to be reliable and charges in about 6 to 8 hours at a standard 110-volt outlet. So what's the tradeoff? A maximum speed of just 25 miles per hour (40.2 kilometers per hour).
        “So the heavy-duty recharging will happen in your home (over the course of several hours) at the charging station designed for your specific vehicle. But most of the cars coming to market in the next few years, like the Nissan LEAF, for instance, will allow you to "top off" at a standard outlet for a little extra juice while you're out and about….”

  • TheBigPicture TheBigPicture

    We really need to pull the plug on nuclear, and use the available wind & solar technology. No reason to wait, either.

  • stopnp stopnp

    But wait. I want my food supply and the air I breathe contaminated with radioactive decay byproducts. I also want harmful radioactive waste buried everywhere. I would also like to pay for it from cradle to grave starting with tax subsidies, then per kwh and finally with more tax subsidies for decommissioning. We need more warheads! Not an inhabitable earth.

  • drherbie drherbie

    Our quest to be Energy independent is now embrassed by two giants: Apple and Google. It tells that there is hope. The question is what each person can do to ensure we approach a 100% GREEN CLEAN RENEWABLE ENERGY. Each one of us must do our part, we create over 37 Millions Green Jobs , ensure everyone has electricity and heat and remove the dependency on foreign oil.