One of the biggest challenges with using renewable energy for electricity generation—specifically wind and solar power—is intermittency. The wind doesn’t always blow and the sun doesn’t always shine. Affordable, reliable, and deployable storage is seen as the holy grail of renewable energy integration, and recent advances in storage technology are getting closer to finding it.

The current electricity grid has virtually no storage—pumped hydropower is the most prevalent, but is largely location dependent. As higher levels of solar and wind energy are added to the grid, however, storage will become increasingly fundamental to ensuring that the power supply remains stable and demand is met. Utilities and businesses around the globe are starting to use large-scale batteries to complement their renewable energy generation: in Texas, for example, Duke Energy installed a 36 megawatt lead-acid storage system to balance its wind power.

Storage system ratings

Credit: Energy Storage Association

Storage technologies not only provide utilities with grid reliability for renewable integration, but also offer additional benefits such as ancillary services, ramp rate control, frequency regulation, and peak shaving, which can lower costs and improve the performance of the transmission system. Power system operators have always had to match electricity demand with supply, and energy storage is an additional tool in their grid-management toolbox.

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batteries, CAES, compressed air energy storage, electricity, electricity grid, intermittency, lithium-ion batteries, pumped-hydro storage, renewable energy, solar power, Storage, wind power

A World Bank report concludes that liquified natural gas is the least-cost option for powering Haiti by 2028, but notes that renewable energy sources may also be cost effective.

Less than 30 percent of Haiti's population has access to electricity © Worldwatch

What options are available for Haiti’s energy future? The office of the country’s new State Secretary for Energy is weighing the available options for energy supply and beginning consultations to plan the next steps for Haiti’s power sector. In doing so, decision makers should consider not only the short-term technical and economic costs, but also the long-term environmental and social costs and benefits for Haiti’s population.

A March 2011 report, commissioned to Nexant by the World Bank and the Public-Private Infrastructure Advisory Facility, a multi-donor technical assistance facility, explores future electricity supply options for the Caribbean region. For Haiti, the Nexant analysis presents three scenarios and concludes that liquified natural gas (LNG) is the cheapest fuel option at nearly all capacity factors. (See table.) The report also notes that renewable energy technologies such as wind power and hydropower are economically viable in the country through 2028.

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Caribbean, electricity grid, Haiti, Low-Carbon Development, natural gas, renewable energy

Reports indicate that China is about to raise its 2015 goal for solar photovoltaic (PV) power to 10 gigawatts (GW), confirming an anonymous report that was leaked earlier this year. The target was originally set at 5 GW in the 12th Five-Year Plan released in March but has since been doubled in the newly submitted Development Plan for Renewable Energy during the 12th Five-Year Period, a document submitted to the State Council at the beginning of this month.

China aims to be a global giant on solar power

It might appear that this doubling is a direct reaction to the ongoing nuclear crisis in Japan, and that China may follow Germany’s steps in halting nuclear energy development. But that isn’t likely to happen. Although the Chinese government did issue an urgent safety review of domestic nuclear power plants, especially those in the construction and planning stages, there has been no official decision to stop or even slow China’s nuclear development. Rather, according to the latest statement from the Director-General of the China Atomic Energy Authority (CAEA), the country will continue to grow its nuclear power industry.

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12th Five-Year Plan, 2015 target, China, electricity grid, energy intensity, renewable energy, solar power, transimission