Engerati’s Week In Energy – Maximize Your Renewables

Published: Fri 23 Jan 2015
A blog entry by Jonathan Spencer Jones

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Jonathan Spencer Jones
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It should be self-evident to want to maximize the output of renewables generation, particularly of wind and solar, which are available – in some degree at least – in almost every corner of the globe.

But this hasn’t happened in Europe, according to a new report from the World Economic Forum. [Uncertain Path To The Future Electricity System] Citing the examples of Spain and Germany, the report states that while Spain has about 65% more solar irradiation than Germany, Germany has installed about 600% more solar PV capacity. In contrast, whereas Spain has less wind than countries in the north, it has still installed 23 GW of wind capacity. The report then goes on to estimate the cost of such “suboptimal deployment” at US$100 billion more than if each country in the EU had invested in the most efficient capacity given its renewable resources. To this it adds a further US$40 billion, which could have been saved by looking across borders for the optimum deployment of renewable resources (with associated physical interconnections).

No details are given about how the figures were arrived at, but even at half the amounts they would still be sizable sums towards other projects. However, they do raise several issues. One is the need for comprehensive renewable resource maps, although these are costly and time consuming to produce, particularly in developing countries where financial and human resources are at a premium. They also suggest the need for improved planning coordination at national and especially regional levels in interconnected markets, which is something that should be taking place anyway - and increasingly is - with benefits across multiple fronts.

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