Preventing blackouts in Texas with renewable energy

Twelve months later, the state’s electrical grid, while it improved, Still vulnerable Power outages due to weather.

“If we get hit by another storm this year, like Urey in 2021, the grid will go down again,” said Andrew Dessler, professor of atmospheric sciences at Texas A&M University. “This is still too risky for us.”

Now, recent study It shows that nationwide blackouts – possibly even during extreme weather events – could be avoided by switching to 100 percent clean, renewable energy, such as solar, wind and water.

“Technically and economically, we have 95 percent of the technologies we need to transform everything today,” said Marc Jacobson, lead author of the paper and professor of civil and environmental engineering at Stanford University. Wind, water and solar already account for about one-fifth of the country’s electricity, although the full transformation in many areas is slow.

The study showed that switching to renewable energy sources would also reduce energy requirements, reduce consumer costs, create millions of new jobs, and improve people’s health.

For years, some have expressed doubts about the feasibility of adopting renewables on a large scale, due to their costs. But Dessler said that although solar power was an expensive energy source 10 years ago, it is One of the cheapest prices today.

“A lot of people’s understanding of renewable energy has become very outdated,” said Dessler, who was not involved in the research.

Wind power can also be very efficient and save half the energy of Texas on some days – a fact that Dessler podcaster surprised Joe Rogan When he appeared as a guest on Thursday’s episode of “The Joe Rogan Experience.”

“Solar and wind are the cheapest sources of energy available,” Dessler said. “People don’t seem to understand that, and they also don’t understand that we know how to make a reliable grid that relies primarily on renewables.”

In the latest study, Jacobson and colleagues show how to meet energy demands every 30 seconds across the United States without blackouts in a greener, more populous nation in 2050 and 2051.

In the simulations, imagine that all the vehicles were electric or powered by hydrogen fuel cells. Electric heat pumps, water heaters, wind turbines and solar panels have replaced fossil fuel alternatives. The team also included new thermal energy sources but no new hydroelectric plants.

They modeled network stability across the contiguous United States, including data from the Air Pollution, Climate and Weather Model, which includes climate factors and statistically typical weather patterns that occur in a given area. Using energy consumption data from the Energy Information Administration, the team simulated energy requirements for 2050-2051. The power supply had to equal the power demand every 30 seconds, otherwise the model would be closed.

The team found that actual energy demand was significantly reduced by simply switching to renewable resources, which are more efficient. For the entire United States, total end-use energy demand fell by about 57 percent. Annual per capita energy costs for households were about 63 percent lower than the “business as usual” scenario.

“Everything we currently do with fossil fuels will be done with technology powered by electricity,” said Anna Katharina von Kreland, co-author and a doctoral candidate in Jacobson’s lab. “The amount of energy needed to perform activities, primarily to power light or to fuel industrial processes, which would actually be reduced if you were to use a more efficient power source.”

During an extreme weather event, lower energy demand is important to help keep the grid online. In Texas, a complete green transition would reduce average annual end-use energy demand by 56 percent. It also reduces peak loads, or the largest amount of power one pulls from the grid at a time. Jacobson said that many homes will also have their own storage and won’t need to rely on the network as much.

The team also found that connecting electrical grids from different geographies could make the power system more reliable and reduce costs. Winds are more likely to blow in larger areas, or shine the sun or run hydroelectric power elsewhere, which may be able to help fill any gaps in the supply.

“The disruption to renewable energy is going down as you look at larger and larger areas,” Dessler said. “If it’s not windy in Texas, it could be windy in Iowa. In that case, they could be over-producing energy and could charge some of their extra power to us.”

The study reported that costs per unit of energy in Texas are 27 percent lower when connected to the Midwest grid than when they are isolated, as they currently are.

“Across the board, we found it would be less costly, more reliable, and have better energy utilization if we were to expand the interconnection,” von Kruland said. add thoughEven if each state were islands on its own, it would still be possible to implement 100 percent wind and solar water in each individual state.”

During the Texas winter, Jacobson said that properly maintained wind turbines will also help maintain the power supply. During the February 2021 cold snap, some frozen wind turbines were shut down due to a lack of de-icing equipment. (Coal, gas and nuclear resources close too from direct freezing of equipment and contributed to an even greater decrease in power.)

“On those days when it’s cold, you have high winds, which is really good news because when it’s cold, you have heating demand,” Jacobson said. “You actually get more energy on cold days.”

During winter, low sunlight may render solar panels useless. In this case, wind turbines and solar panels are complementary energy sources. If both fail at some point, another source of energy can start, such as geothermal energy or hydropower.

Batteries are also used to supply power when solar or wind power is low, but the team showed that long-lasting batteries are not necessary or beneficial for grid stability. Many of the 4-hour batteries currently on the market can be connected to provide long-term storage, such as during a power outage. This finding is particularly useful because long-lasting battery technology may still be relatively far from reaching the market.

“It is a mistake to think of renewables as unreliable because you are not thinking of renewables per se,” Dessler said. “You think of them as part of a system. A stable grid that features lots of renewables will also have a deployable constant capacity that will rebound when the renewables run low.”

The team’s simulation also suggested a power outage in California, such as Those in August 2020, at low cost. Installing more offshore wind turbines during the summer can save energy, including cooling buildings. Moving to all kinds of clean, renewable energy could reduce California’s energy demand by 60 percent.

In addition to improving network stability, the study found that operating a clean, renewable network could create nearly 5 million long-term full-time jobs, from construction to manufacturing to indirect employment in companies. The systems would also produce cleaner air, which could reduce pollution-related deaths by 53,000 people annually and reduce pollution-related illnesses for millions of people in 2050.

“This is a very important study,” said Robert Howarth, a professor at Cornell University who was not involved in the research. “The fossil fuel industries continue to argue that renewables are a dangerous experiment, and that grid stability and reliability will continue to depend in part on fossil fuels. Here, Jacobson and colleagues clearly show that this is not the case at all.”

Jacobson’s previous research in 2015 on the massive transformation of renewable energy criticize From some in the scientific community. More than 20 researchers published study Citing concerns about insufficient modeling techniques and assumptions. One problematic assumption was that existing hydroelectric dams could boost their energy production. Jacobson sued lead author Christopher Clack for defamation but withdraw the suit.

This new study takes into account previous criticisms, modifying assumptions, testing the model under many different conditions, and incorporating data that has been available since the 2015 study, Jacobson said. “These are very updated, more realistic plans and much less criticism of them to date,” he said.

Dessler said He does not believe that the results of this study are “totally controversial”, It states that a 100 percent clean, renewable network is theoretically possible.

“Obviously, it will only work because there is a lot of renewable energy available on the planet. Just from a physics point of view, there are no fundamental limitations here,” he said. “The limitation is political. You have to get people to come together and decide to do that, and that’s really hard.”

During the cold snap in February 2021, former Texas Governor Rick Perry said Texans would spend more time in the cold and without electricity to “keep the federal government out of their business” and democrats thwarted who want to propose new regulations.

About 15 states, territories and more than 180 cities have put in place policies that increase the amount of renewable electricity, but Jacobson hopes the findings like this will give policymakers confidence to pass laws and policies for faster transition. Jacobson’s previous studies and work through his non-profit organization project solutions Help make informed plans like Green New Deal and the state legislature.

“We need a really fast 80 percent transition [of clean energy] by 2030 and 100 percent as soon as possible after that, Jacobson said. “It really takes a large-scale effort among a lot of people to solve this problem. It is not a single scientific study that will solve the problem.”

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