By Ami Sampat
The efforts to reduce carbon emissions and increase the use of reliable power generation of renewable fuels will determine the future of the electric grid, as was reported by the North American Electric Reliability Corporation. But solar and wind will have to overcome some fundamental challenges before they are accepted by large utilities.
“As we consider our energy future, it becomes increasingly clear that our success in reducing carbon emissions and realizing energy independence will hinge on our ability to provide reliable, clean, electricity where and when it is needed,” states Rick Sergal, President and CEO of the NERC.
Why is this important to the future?
The NERC must tackle the most important aspect of grid power – reliability. Coal is the single greatest provider of electricity in North America. To retire the coal plants would be difficult to still supply electricity on such a mass scale and with the same degree of reliability. Replacing coal with renewables could be challenge based on their poor intermittent production cycle based on wind blowing and sun shining.
As we make the shift to alternative energy, it is important to make sure that consumers are receiving the same reliable energy they were before. Since some types of alternative energy, such as solar and wind powered, are difficult to store, it sets up a difficult task to make sure that no one will be without electricity when needed. Until this process is not perfected, alternative energy will not be widely used by utility providers.
What to watch
Concerns over the climate change are expected to lead to more carbon regulations that could make coal and natural gas more expensive. Solar and wind could integrate energy storage systems to improve reliability.