The intermittency of wind, solar, and renewable electricity generators: Technical barrier or rhetorical excuse?

Sovacool, Benjamin K (2009) The intermittency of wind, solar, and renewable electricity generators: Technical barrier or rhetorical excuse? Utilities Policy, 17 (3-4). pp. 288-296. ISSN 0957-1787

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Abstract

A consensus has long existed within the electric utility sector of the United States that renewable electricity generators such as wind and solar are unreliable and intermittent to a degree that they will never be able to contribute significantly to electric utility supply or provide baseload power. This paper asks three interconnected questions:

1.
What do energy experts really think about renewables in the United States?
2.
To what degree are conventional baseload units reliable?
3.
Is intermittency a justifiable reason to reject renewable electricity resources?

To provide at least a few answers, the author conducted 62 formal, semi-structured interviews at 45 different institutions including electric utilities, regulatory agencies, interest groups, energy systems manufacturers, nonprofit organizations, energy consulting firms, universities, national laboratories, and state institutions in the United States. In addition, an extensive literature review of government reports, technical briefs, and journal articles was conducted to understand how other countries have dealt with (or failed to deal with) the intermittent nature of renewable resources around the world. It was concluded that the intermittency of renewables can be predicted, managed, and mitigated, and that the current technical barriers are mainly due to the social, political, and practical inertia of the traditional electricity generation system.

Item Type: Article
Schools and Departments: School of Business, Management and Economics > SPRU - Science Policy Research Unit
Depositing User: Benjamin Sovacool
Date Deposited: 02 Dec 2015 15:33
Last Modified: 02 Jun 2016 09:58
URI: http://sro.sussex.ac.uk/id/eprint/58168
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