Towards 100 % renewable energy system
Solar and wind
With the current emission rate no CO2 can be emitted to the atmosphere after 2035 if global warming is aimed at to be limited to the 2°C. Therefore there is a lot unburnable carbon in coal, oil and gas deposits.
Carbon budget is meant by the amount of CO2 that can still be emitted before reaching the 2°C limit.
Carbon bubble refers to the overestimated market value of the companies having significant fossil fuel assets, or carbon dependant business, now at risk to become starded assests.
When all energy using processes in a society need to be zero emitting they need to be made to use solar and wind energy. This happens directly electrification or indirectly.
The main energy using sectors include:
These are also the main sectors responsible for the global greenhouse gas emission due human action. Some of these can be directly electrified.
The technologies through which the sectors are made to use renewable electricity indirectly are called bridging or neocarbonisation technologies. Examples of these are
Neocarbonisation suggest there is a continued need to carbon as a fundamental building block and energy carrier also in the future for fuels, chemicals and materials.
The primary solution for neocarbonisation is to use atmospheric CO2 as a source of carbon for synthesising hydrocarbons. This implies we do not have to think that the energy system is ‘zero-carbon’ or ‘low-carbon’. We can use carbon sensibly and sustainably because it is a ‘neo-carbon’ energy system.
Energy Storages and demand flexibility are ultimately needed in an energy system based on solar and wind
Different types of storages are needed: The fastest reacting storages can provide so called grid support i.e. balancing on sub-second level the between wind and solar production and instantaneous consumption. The amount of energy stored in the family of these technologies can be small but the storage can be charged and discharged at high rate. These short term storages will shift energy within a day over minutes to hours.
Storages that shift energy for weeks and months are also needed. They are called seasonal energy storages. Their main purpose is to maintain the energy system during longer low wind periods.
The amount of storage and combinations of storages needed is under research at the moment.
System flexibility, i.e. how other production technologies and energy consumption can balance the variable solar and wind production is also needed. The final optimal future energy system design is country specific.
Power to the people
The transition of the energy system also induces transformation in the ownership basis in energy sector and energy business. Many of the emerging business opportunities lie in between different sectors: direct energy sales, transmission, transportation, infrastructure, manufacturing, new technology deployment, real estate and end customers.
The new business areas are typically more complex than in the existing energy market and are currently not occupied by any company.
The question remains: who’s business renewable energy business will be and what are the new and innovative products needed?
Solar and wind energy are democratic energy sources. They are available for anyone. The energy transition to renewables is likely to disrupt the current ownership structure of the energy system and disrupt the current negative dependancies in the fossisl energy system. These dependencies result from the asymmetry between energy consuming countries as nans those with the energy reserves: oil, coal and gas.
Ownership of current electricity generation capacity in EU (large = with > 5% from national production)