[ExI] Wind, solar could provide 99.9% of ALL POWER by 2030

Anders Sandberg anders at aleph.se
Sun Dec 16 10:12:24 UTC 2012

On 15/12/2012 17:22, Adrian Tymes wrote:
> On Sat, Dec 15, 2012 at 8:59 AM, spike <spike66 at att.net> wrote:
>> The key to making ground based solar and wind power more practical is that
>> we need to be way more tolerant of possibly severe but temporary shortages.
> Shortages in *local production*.  As the report noted, storage
> helps get around this.  So does having a transmission grid,

Unfortunately fractal resource availability patterns and spatial 
correlations make shortages hard to counteract. Storage is surprisingly 
difficult even when you use water magazines (and they require you to 
have some convenient mountains - many places lack them). Flywheels and 
superconducting coils turn out to have annoying limitations. Spatial 
correlations mean that wind and solar power does vary a lot more across 
large areas than you would think: grids do need to be redesigned to 
handle strongly fluctuating supplies and redistributing them over space 
scales of more than 1000 km. And if devices become smart and start using 
or supplying power depending on price, they can seriously destabilise 
the system by causing "market bubbles" (simulations done here in Oxford 
of smart grids and electric cars).

Lots of cheap local energy production is great (especially from a 
resiliency standpoint), but it will not be good enough to supply remote 
locations in a dip unless the power grid becomes magical.

Anders Sandberg,
Future of Humanity Institute
Oxford Martin School
Faculty of Philosophy
Oxford University

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