This government’s record on energy has been incompetent to the point of derision or despair, depending on how much you care about it. But suddenly, a ray of sunshine emerges from Greg Clarke’s Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS). Greg wants to unleash the power of the market on our broken energy system. But this isn’t just the same old, same old rhetoric exhorting consumers switch from one of the much-maligned big energy suppliers to another. No, Greg is talking about nothing less than the coming revolution in energy, one that has become evident to many of us working in the renewables sector, but has until now been just a little too far over the horizon for the politicians to ‘get’. A combination of key technologies – solar, wind, and energy storage coupled with a real-time energy market driven by information technology are maturing and the impact will be extraordinary. Solar panels and wind turbines have a complementary output profile and a combination of both will even out seasonal energy production in northern climates such as the UK. Energy will be stored in and released from large batteries – including those in electric vehicles – to meet shorter term peaks in demand and troughs in supply. Real-time electricity pricing will allow internet enabled appliances to turn on or regulate down following pricing signals to smooth out demand to better match supply. What we’re looking at is a fundamental shift from an energy system based on resources to one founded on technology. Our current energy system has been built on extracting resources (coal, gas, oil) from the planet’s crust and setting fire to them. The energy system of the near future will be based on technology that converts the energy derived from the sun (daylight and wind) into electricity. The key point is that whereas natural resources get more expensive as you use more of them, technology becomes ever cheaper and more efficient. The inflexion point is coming and it’s now no longer a question of whether the oil age will end, but how soon it will come.
Solar power portal 27th July 2017 read more »