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Market-Based Solutions to Vital Economic Issues
Research
Jan 31, 2019

Meeting the Renewables Intermittency Challenge

Abstract

Environmental and other drivers have increased the focus on renewable sources of energy – in particular, wind and solar – over the past few decades. While these systems have many benefits, one downside is that they produce electricity only when nature cooperates. The intermittent nature of these energy sources means that the amount of electricity generated varies from zero to full capacity depending on conditions that are often beyond human control. Accounting for intermittency in the total, or “all-in,” costs of integrating wind and solar power into the electric grid is important to informing future investments in and incentives for renewable power generation.

The UNC Energy Center and the Kenan Institute of Private Enterprise hosted a conference on “Meeting the Renewables Intermittency Challenge” on April 13-14, 2018. The conference brought together senior executives from major utilities and renewable energy companies, consultants and academic researchers to examine the true cost of integrating renewable energy generation into the electric grid and explore ways to address the challenges posed by wind and solar energy intermittency.

The conference had three specific objectives

  1. to measure accurately the all-in costs of wind and solar power,
  2. to identify the lowest cost path for integrating more renewable generation into the electric grid, and
  3. to determine whether technology innovations on the horizon will materially alter this outlook

This report highlights key issues and ideas for moving the field forward.


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