17 April 2010
I do not want to be blogging on a fine Saturday morning but an interesting energy discussion paper just arrived in my inbox from Boston Consulting Group, which is Prime Minister Rudd’s favorite consulting firm.
‘Electricity Storage: Making Large-Scale Adoption of Wind and Solar Energies a Reality’ was written by Cornelius Pieper and Holger Rubel from BCG Germany.
The best thing about this paper is that the authors speak of ‘the march toward a fossil-fuel-free energy landscape’. This view is unfashionable in Australia, where most ‘credible’ commentators lack the fortitude to speak of the transition beyond gas and coal, but it is the only way to stop catastrophic climate change.
Pieper and Rubel explain why renewable energy storage is a critical step in the march to a clean energy economy:
We are witnessing a paradigm change. Historically, electricity generation has been designed to follow demand. Now, we are moving toward a world in which virtually continuous demand is expected to be met, to a large extent, by energy sources—wind and sun—that are not “on,” or able to generate, much of the time. This challenge makes electricity storage critical—and the next frontier in energy infra- structure.
Pieper and Rubel explain the technologies well and include some very clear charts and graphs. I am keen however, to hear more from them on two issues.
Firstly, I am not sure that their cost curve predictions are correct when they claim that the grid parity point of stored wind and solar electricity will not be met until around 2025. I think that fossil fuels will increasingly bear new costs associated with regulatory and legal issues, that all favor renewable energy.
Secondly, I am surprised that they choose photovoltaic power as the second biggest renewable energy source after wind and do not give a big role to solar thermal. Solar thermal generation is surely the exciting late starter in the energy game.
I would like to see something from BCG about solar thermal power, that discusses efficient processes by which the thermal energy generated can be stored as heat.