A Look at Wind and Solar

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This Energy Insights covers two articles from the Breakthrough Institute. Part One – How Far We’ve Come looks at the history of renewables. Part Two – Is There An Upper Limit To Intermittent Renewables? looks at what the future might hold for renewables.

Part One – How Far We’ve Come

Together, wind and solar increased from 1.1 percent to 3.3 percent of global electricity over that same period (2008 – 2016)

This shows both the impressive relative growth (300% increase) and not so impressive absolute & relative amounts of wind & solar in the entire global mix.

Of the power generation growth (TWh) between 2003 and 2016, 10.9% came from wind and solar

2003 to 2016 is a long period of time – it would be interesting to understand how this percentage has changed from 2003 to 2016.

Part Two – Is There An Upper Limit To Intermittent Renewables?

It is increasingly difficult for the market share of variable renewable energy sources at the system-wide level to exceed the capacity factor of the energy source.

This idea of a limit on renewables deployment based on the capacity factor is based not on technical but economic constraints.

The marginal value of variable renewable energy to the grid declines as the penetration rises.

This declining value is what leads to limiting renewables penetration via the merit order effect in wholesale markets.

Thanks for reading!

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