Imagining an All-Renewable Grid With No Blackouts Without Long-Duration Batteries

Slashdot reader SoftwareArtist shares an announcement from a Stanford University institute for environmental studies. "For some, visions of a future powered by clean, renewable energy are clouded by fears of blackouts driven by intermittent electricity supplies," the announcement begins. "Those fears are misplaced, according to a new Stanford University study that analyzes grid stability under multiple scenarios in which wind, water and solar energy resources power 100% of U.S. energy needs for all purposes." "This study is the first to examine grid stability in all U.S. grid regions and many individual states after electrifying all energy and providing the electricity with only energy that is both clean and renewable," said study lead author Mark Z. Jacobson, a professor of civil and environmental engineering at Stanford... Imagine all cars and trucks were powered with electric motors or hydrogen fuel cells, electric heat pumps replaced gas furnaces and water heaters and wind turbines and solar panels replaced coal and natural gas power plants. The study envisions those and many more transitions in place across the electricity, transportation, buildings and industrial sectors in the years 2050 and 2051... Interconnecting larger and larger geographic regions made power supply smoother and costs lower because it upped the chances of available wind, sun and hydro power availability and reduced the need for extra wind turbines, solar panels and batteries. A significant finding of the study was that long-duration batteries were neither needed nor helpful for keeping the grid stable. Instead, grid stability could be obtained by linking together currently available batteries with storage durations of four hours or less. Linking together short-duration batteries can provide long-term storage when they are used in succession. They can also be discharged simultaneously to meet heavy peaks in demand for short periods. In other words, short-duration batteries can be used for both big peaks in demand for short periods and lower peaks for a long period or anything in-between. Other findings: Cleaner air would spare about 53,200 people from pollution-related deaths every year. It would also spare millions more from pollution-related illnesses. Total estimated health costs saved each year: $700 billion.Building and operating a completely renewable grid may create 4.7 million long-term jobs. Per capita household energy costs were nearly 63% less. New electricity generators would occupy about 0.84% of U.S. land (versus roughly 1.3% occupied today by the fossil fuel industry).

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