Percent Renewable Energy Systems

With a contribution by Woodrow W. Clark II

Senior Fellow, Milken Institute; Founder, Clark Strategic Partners

The implementation of 100 percent renewable energy systems adds to the challenge of integrating RES into existing energy systems on the large scale. Not only must fluctuating and intermittent renewable energy production be coordinated with the rest of the energy system, but the size of the energy demand must also be adjusted to the realistic amount of potential renewable sources. Furthermore, this adjustment must address the differences in the characteristics of different sources, such as, for example, biomass fuels and electricity production from wind power.

The design of suitable energy systems must consider both conversion and storage technologies. Renewable energy will have to be compared not to nuclear or fossil fuels but to other sorts of renewable energy system technologies, including conservation, efficiency improvements, and storage and conversion technologies for example, wind turbines versus the need for biomass resources. The selection of technologies is complex, not only with regard to the differences in hourly distributions of the technologies but also in terms of the identification of a suitable combination of changes in conversion and storage technologies.

The design of renewable energy systems involves three major technological changes: energy savings on the demand side, efficiency improvements in the energy production, and the replacement of fossil fuels by various sources of renewable energy. Consequently, the analysis of such systems must include strategies for integrating renewable sources into complex energy systems which are influenced by energy savings and efficiency measures. The design of 100 percent renewable energy systems can be addressed at the project level as well as the national level. At the project level, this chapter describes the efforts of the Los Angeles Community College District to implement a 100 percent renewable energy system for each of its nine college campuses. And at the national level, two studies of Denmark are presented. As already mentioned in Chapter 5, Denmark is a frontrunner in that

© 2010 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. Doi: 10.1016/B978-0-12-375028-0.00006-6

respect and therefore represents a suitable case for the analysis of large-scale integration as well as the development of 100 percent renewable energy systems.

In Denmark, savings and efficiency improvements have been important parts of the energy policy since the first oil crisis in 1973. Hence, by means of energy conservation and expansion of CHP and district heating, Denmark has been able to maintain the same level of primary energy supply for a period of more than 30 years, in spite of the fact that GDP has increased by about 100 percent in the same period (from 1972 to 2007). Moreover, approximately 15 percent of fossil fuels have been replaced by RES. In the same period, transport and electricity consumption as well as the heated space area have increased substantially.

Thus, Denmark provides an example of how renewable energy development strategies constituted by a combination of savings, efficiency improvements, and RES can be implemented. As described in Chapter 5, Denmark is now facing two problems: how to integrate the high share of intermittent electricity from RES and how to include the transport sector in future strategies. Taking this development of strategies a step further, the implementation of renewable energy systems is not only a matter of implementing savings, efficiency improvements, and RES, but it also becomes a matter of introducing and adding flexible energy conversion and storage technologies and designing integrated energy system solutions.

According to estimations of the Danish Energy Authority from 1996, the realistic biomass potential for energy purposes corresponds to 20 25 percent of the present total primary energy supply. Meanwhile, Denmark has a great potential for other sorts of renewable energy, especially wind power. In many ways, Denmark provides a typical example of the situation in many countries: The transportation sector is totally fueled by oil, and although the biomass potential is not big enough to replace fossil fuels, the potential of intermittent renewable sources is substantial.

Based on the case of Denmark, this chapter presents two studies that analyze the problems and perspectives of converting the present energy system into a 100 percent renewable energy system. The first study is a one-person university study that applies the information presented in Chapter 5 to the analysis of a coherent renewable energy system. The second study is based on the technical inputs of members of the Danish Society of Engineers (IDA). The input to the study is the result of the organization's "Energy Year 2006," during which 1600 participants at more than 40 seminars discussed and designed a model for the future energy system of Denmark. Both studies exercise the analysis of designing coherent and complex renewable energy systems, including the suitable integration of energy conversion and storage technologies. And both studies are based on detailed hour-by-hour simulations carried out with the EnergyPLAN model.

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