The Unstoppable Renewable Revolution

For years naysayers have been arguing that renewable energy isn’t a good idea because the electrical input fluctuates too much on the grid. Now we have more evidence that those naysayers have nothing to back up their argument.

Over at Climate Progress they have a good post on key factors that make the renewable revolution unstoppable. One reason is the ability of technology to make up for perceived (and in some cases, real) shortcomings of renewable energy production.

A key point, though, is that new technology is increasingly making it less and less likely for there to be an unexpectedly cloudy or windless day. As a 2014 article on “Smart Wind and Solar Power” in Technology Review put it, “Big data and artificial intelligence are producing ultra-accurate forecasts that will make it feasible to integrate much more renewable energy into the grid.”

It’s already happening: “Wind power forecasts of unprecedented accuracy are making it possible for Colorado to use far more renewable energy, at lower cost, than utilities ever thought possible.” The National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) in Boulder makes these forecasts “using artificial-intelligence-based software … along with data from weather satellites, weather stations, and other wind farms in the state.” And that helped Xcel Energy, a major power producer in the state, set a remarkable record in 2013 — “during one hour, 60 percent of its electricity for Colorado was coming from the wind.”

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