How Reliable Is Renewable Energy?
Sep 9, 2019
The majority of Americans agree that it would be good for the country to be less reliant on foreign fossil fuels. The United States is less dependent on foreign oil than it used to be, but it’s far from being energy independent.
Americans also worry about the increase of storms made even more powerful by climate change—like the numerous hurricanes that ravaged the U.S. in recent years. Such severe weather often knocks out the power grid right when people need it most.
With these two factors, Americans are increasingly more interested in renewable energy. They’re also wondering, just how reliable is renewable energy?
Renewables’ Important Role in Reliability
Renewable energy sources such as wind and solar help strengthen the electric grid in many ways. According to the report Powering into the Future: Renewable Energy & Grid Reliability, “renewables can contribute to grid reliability and security by creating a grid that is more flexible—able to respond to system changes quickly—and diverse. Renewable generators also utilize new and free “fuel” resources (the wind and sun) and can be located in new places, both characteristics that can help create a more robust system.” Additionally, the rise of storage technology solutions for solar will make solar energy even more reliable and dependable in the coming years.
Adding More Energy Sources Is Better
Evidence increasingly shows that relying more on renewable energy sources such as wind and solar makes America’s electrical grid both more secure and more resilient to interruption—not less, as some have feared.
Just like diversifying a financial portfolio, diversifying our electricity sources makes the entire grid more resistant to disruption and catastrophe. Diversity in the electric system can help protect against power supply vulnerabilities, such as supply shortages and price spikes. And having renewable sources that can “fill in when coal facilities are incapacitated ensures that power can continue to flow even during extreme conditions.”
In the event of a massive storm or other event that cuts off the power supply, bringing coal, natural gas, or oil operations back online is a massive undertaking. And in the worst-case scenario, a natural gas or oil spill would both disrupt the electrical grid and also poison the land and water around it.
But when an electrical grid depends on solar panels and wind turbines, it’s far less likely that one event could take out all power suppliers. And if it does, it’s far easier and safer to get a wind turbine or solar panel operational again than fixing a gas pipeline or coal plant. With power supply coming in from many different origins, it’s also much less vulnerable to interruption.
The Grid Industry and the Military Consider Renewables Reliable
Many energy industry professionals agree that resiliency and reliability of renewables is not an issue. In July 2017, a reliability draft-study came to that conclusion, and grid operators agreed that they can perform reliably with renewable generation.
The U.S. military is also a proponent of renewable energy, because it sees a shift to renewables as a matter of national security. Using microgrids—a small electrical grid with a local supply source—the military is making its bases at home and overseas energy-self-sufficient. The easiest way to do that in most cases is to hook the microgrid to a source of electricity that relies only on things that are freely available, like the sun and the wind. With a goal of getting 50% of its energy from alternative sources by 2020, the Army already had 17 large-scale renewable projects in development in early 2016.
The Department of Defense’s acceptance of renewable energy may also speed innovation and the development of devices for clean energy storage and collection—in the same way the 1960’s Space Race spawned inventions like duct tape and water filters.
Reliable Renewable Energy with CleanChoice Energy
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At CleanChoice Energy, we’re helping lead the country into a future of safe, secure, clean energy. Learn how you can be a part of the renewable energy revolution, and sign up for 100% clean, renewable energy today!