The 100 Percent Renewable Dream: A Problem of Physics and Scale
By Brent Bennett, Ph.D. and Michael J. Nasi, Life:Powered
The drumbeat of press about the declining costs of installing wind and solar generators has led most of the public and our policy-makers to believe that an energy transition from fossil fuels to wind and solar is just around the corner. However, this belief overlooks the fundamental physical limitations of producing electricity from wind and solar. There is a wide gulf between using wind and solar energy for marginal electricity production, as we are doing now in many places, and relying on it for the majority of our electricity.
In this piece, we will elaborate on the two biggest challenges of generating electricity from wind and solar – energy storage and energy density – and explain why making the energy transition a reality is not just a problem of technology but primarily one of physics and scale.