A new report from Oregon State University states that renewable energy could see a significant leap forward with improved storage technologies or more efforts to “match” hybrid forms of clean energy systems that provide an overall more steady flow of electricity.
Historically, a major drawback to the use and cost-effectiveness of alternative energy systems has been that they are too variable with conventional energy system needed to pick up the slack, so to speak when the wind fails to blow or the sun does not shine. This intermittency has often been cited as a major drawback for renewable energy.
But in a report published in The Electricity Journal, scientists say that much of this problem could be addressed with enhanced energy storage technology and smart grids or by developing “hybrid” systems in which, on a broader geographic scale, one form of renewable energy is ramping up even while the other is declining. For Caribbean islands this could take the form of mixing solar and wind as seen in Jamaica or introducing biofuels to make up the difference.
In other regions around the world, geothermal is being paired with solar; wind and solar with lithium-ion batteries; and wind and biodiesel with batteries. The eastern Caribbean is a particularly strong contender for geothermal which can be paired with wind or other renewable. By helping to address the price issue, renewable energy is being produced in hybrid systems by real, private companies that are making real money.
The near future may offer more technological options with wave or ocean current energy becoming more cost effective, as seen in Martinique and Curacao. Ocean current and tidal forces are predictable and stable by definition.
The long-term goal is to identify technologies that can work in a hybrid system that offers consistency and dependability without relying on fossil fuels. With careful matching of systems, improved transmission abilities and some new technological advances, that goal may be closer than realized, they said in the Oregon State University report.
The report concludes, “With development, the cost of these hybrid systems will decrease and become increasingly competitive, hopefully playing a larger role in power generation in the future”.
Source: Oregon State University