A Free-Market Energy Blog


Posts from December 0

The Problem of Renewable Energy and Intermittency

By Cornelis van Kooten -- May 14, 2019

“Open-cycle (peak) gas plants are the most common asset used to backstop wind and solar intermittency. However, as the wind and solar capacity increases, the incentive for a private company to invest in such assets declines to the point where the operator of the electric system must provide a subsidy to the construction of gas plants capable of providing electricity on very short notice.”

A number of utilities are trying to become 100% carbon free in their production of electricity by relying on renewable sources of energy.

I am not at all certain what this means. Often the only sources of renewable electricity are wind turbines and solar photovoltaic (PV) panels, and, to a much lesser extent, geothermal. (Iceland is the only country relying on geothermal.)

Both wind and solar energy suffer from what is known as intermittency, because winds have a nasty habit of suddenly dying or springing up, while the sun will disappear behind clouds and provides no power at night.…