I’ve been monitoring renewable energies for a few years now – initially having my interest sparked by the blogs and other on-line communications of Robert Llewellyn. I subsequently invested in a 4kwh solar panel installation on my house last year and genuinelly belive that renewable energy is going to have a profound effect on the uk population, its finances and economic efficiency.
When I first encountered the Internet back in 1993 i immediately saw the huge potential for it to shake our lives up (i included it in my channels to market dissertation at the time) and i believe renewable energy will have an equally profound effect in years to come.
I have read some amusing commentary about how we are never going to run out of fossil fuels – something I find quite incredible as it is a finite resource. Of course, as the price goes up (except for the most recent aberration which is something to do with geo-politics I suspect and forcing the US to stop its high cost shale production) we are able to drill for increasingly hard to reach oil and so the supply carries on.
However, I firmly believe that alternative energies of solar, wind and geothermal should and will be harnessed in substantially greater volume. The technologies of solar for example have exponentially improved over the years (driven by Germany some would say) and is now a viable low cost source of electricity for domestic users. At the top end, solar farms and wind farms can produce volume of electricity for a large slice of daily generated electricity. This is an interesting web site which shows how much wind electricity is contributing to the energy mix of the UK – http://www.gridwatch.templar.co.uk/ interestingly, this doesn’t show solar either industrial or domestic supply.
What I believe will be the real game changer for the alternative market is the ability to store the electricity. At a national level, the consistent flow of electricity is key to the national grid to be able to supply according to known peaks and troughs of the day, but obviously solar and wind is not a technology that can deliver this. At the bottom end of the generation market, domestic supply is either used at point of source during the day (when most people are out at work) or sent to the local sub station and back out to local users. This I believe is a problem in itself as the grid was designed to only supply power one way and not both ways and will eventually if local micro generation continues to grow will require the grid to become a two way smart grid, local generating and locally re-routing to consumers.
As the price of producing a kWh via solar power comes down as it is rapidly at the moment, it is inevitable that the majority of people who have a roof will end up with solar power to supply their domestic electricity requirements and make money by selling excess kWh back to the grid. The low cost storage batteries that should be on the market (by low cost I think sub £1,000 for 25-30kWh – the Nissan Leaf has a storage capacity of 24kWh) within a couple of years will revolutionise the whole market. I believe that this isn’t fantasy as there is a demand at all levels of the consumer and generation market :
- Generation / utility – domestic, community and solar farms
- Battery usage – mobile phones, electric cars and industrial on demand battery storage
The reduction of reliance on fossil fuels will not only revolutionise the generation market, but will also improve the economics of the country. The UK currently has a huge trade deficit in oil / fuels and domestic generation of renewables will help improve the economy – so not only good for the green lobby but good for our basic economics.
Whenever someone starts me on this subject, I can go on for ages about it, but I genuinely believe that power generation will profoundly affect many of the ways we live today almost as much as the Internet has done in the last 20 years.