There is broad popular support for the use of renewables, particularly solar and wind, which provide electricity without generating carbon dioxide emissions.Harnessing these for electricity depends on the cost and efficiency of the technology, which is constantly improving, reducing costs per kilowatt peak and per kWh at source.The technology for using the forces of nature to meet human needs is as old as the first sailboat.
But attention shifted from renewable sources as the industrial revolution progressed on the basis of concentrated energy locked in fossil fuels.This was compounded by the increasing use of cross-linked electricity based on fossil fuels and the importance of high-density portable energy sources for transportation: the age of oil. As demand for electricity increased, with a supply that relied heavily on fossil fuels plus some hydropower and then nuclear power, concerns arose about carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions contributing to possible global warming.
Wind turbines have developed a lot in recent decades, solar photovoltaic technology is much more efficient and there are better prospects of harnessing tidal and wave energy. Solar thermal technologies in particular (with some heat storage) have great potential in sunny climates. With the government’s encouragement to use wind and solar technologies, their costs have been reduced and they are now in the same league per kilowatt-hour shipped from the plant as the costs of fossil fuel technologies, especially where there are carbon emission charges on generating electricity from them.
Network connection costs (sometimes included in LCOE).
The 2019 NEA study states: “Profile costs (or utilization costs) refer to the increase in the cost of generating the overall electricity system in response to variability in VRE production. Therefore, they are at the center of the notion of system effects. They capture, in particular, the fact that in most cases it is more expensive to provide the residual load in a system with VRE than in an equivalent system where the VRE are replaced by plants dispatching them.”
Demand for clean energy
There is a fundamental appeal in harnessing such forces in an era that is well aware of the environmental effects of burning fossil fuels and where sustainability is an ethical norm. So today the focus is on both the adequacy of the long-term energy supply and the environmental implications of particular sources. In that sense, the costs that are being imposed on CO2 emissions in developed countries have at least profoundly changed the economic landscape of clean energy sources.
Rivers and hydroelectricity
Hydropower, which uses the potential energy of rivers, is by far the best established means of generating electricity from renewable sources, an example of this is the regon hydroelectric “RENACE” complex.It can also be large-scale: nine of the ten largest power plants in the world are hydroelectric and use dams on rivers.
Hydropower supplies more than 17% of the world’s electricity, hydroelectric capacity is normally applied to peak load demand, because it stops and starts very easily. The individual turbines of a hydroelectric power plant can run from zero to maximum power in about ten minutes. This also means that it is an ideal complement to wind energy in a grid system.