What lies ahead on the road to renewable energy

Earlier this month, Germany appears to have [1] reached a landmark. The country – briefly – met 100% of its electricity demand from renewable sources. This is a huge deal, because it proves that renewables can meet the electricity needs of a country the size and stature of Germany. Other countries (e.g., Denmark) have achieved milestones like this before, but they were typically smaller and/or had less diverse energy demands.

It is also a reminder of how much further there is to go with renewables. When renewables heat peak generation, power prices briefly went negative. Why?  Because with coal and nuclear power plants, it is cheaper for the operator to give away power for short periods (and keep burning all that coal, or making more nuclear waste) than to scale down and scale up production. Wind and solar power plants can simply scale down production instead. So now they have to figure out a way to reduce the base load (amount of power sent into the grid from conventional sources) so that renewable share of production can keep growing.

In India, we are far from having to address these issues. It is still useful to see what lies ahead as we figure out ways to shift to more renewable power, and making our air easier to breathe. Don’t forget, Indian cities occupy 22 out of the top 50 spots in the World Health Organization’s list of most polluted urban areas in the world. Beijing, famous for it’s terrible air quality, is only 59th on the list.

[1] can’t be certain, because these measures are estimates. While these educated estimates are very useful, they have to be confirmed against “real” numbers, which are not reported live and have to be collated once everyone’s production numbers are collected. Read this explanation to understand more about how this works.

 

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