Flexible Resources Will Be Key to Unlock Renewable Future

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  • Need for backup capacity to stay the same as sources shift.
  • Variations in demand, supply call for multiple options.

Highest weeks for wind and solar output, U.K. 2040

Source: Bloomberg New Energy Finance 

Lowest weeks for wind and solar output, U.K. 2040

Source: Bloomberg New Energy Finance

As solar and wind costs plummet across Europe, there will be a strong shift to these power sources. More and more often, wind and solar alone could exceed total demand in the U.K. and Germany. By 2040, there will be entire days and even weeks when renewable supply exceeds demand, but also days, weeks and even months when the majority of demand must be met by other sources. As a result, the total backup capacity needed in 2040 is much the same as in 2017 in both countries. That means 70GW in the U.K. and 97GW in Germany of dispatchable resources (generation, storage, flexible demand, interconnectors) – but these will need to be highly flexible to respond to variations in demand and supply.

BNEF clients can see the full research report here.

These findings are part of an economic study – ‘Beyond the tipping point: flexibility gaps in future high-renewable energy systems in the UK, Germany and the Nordics’ – released November 14, 2017 by BNEF and commissioned by Eaton in partnership with the Renewable Energy Association. Read the press release for the key findings or download the full study here.

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