The German decision to eliminate nuclear power plants is a good decision with respect to safety and the consequential costs of nuclear energy production. In 2011, Germany produced 621 TWh (terawatt hours) of electrical power. 108 TWh, around 20%, was produced by nuclear power plants, while 116 TWh were produced for renewable energy sources: 32 TWh by biogas, 46 TWh by wind turbines, 19.5 TWh by water power, and 19 TWh by photovoltaic power. To replace nuclear power with renewable energy, the country needs to double the capacity of renewable energy sources. This is no problem with respect to production capacity and or the possibilities that are still available in Germany to install renewable energy sources.
Nevertheless, reaching the target is not assured. What are the obstacles that Germany has to overcome to reach the goal? One is the improvement of the grid. This subject is currently being heavily discussed. This is a necessary action. The question cannot be whether it will be done but must be how it should be done. I think that this is not the only issue that has to be addressed. With the rising share of renewable energy, especially with the rising share of discontinue produced solar and wind energy, the problem of energy storage also has to be solved.
This issue is not often discussed, probably because there are still a lot of questions open:
– How much storage do we really need?
– What storage technology causes the lowest power losses?
– What are the most cost-efficient storage technologies?
– What has to be done for the safety of energy storage?
We have no answers to these questions at the present time. There is a risk that the lack of answers to these questions will slow down the further installation of renewable energy.
There are a lot of possibilities to store electrical energy. Examples include:
– Pumped-storage hydro power stations
– Hydrogen storage (fuel cells)
– Batteries (plumb accumulators, lithium ion accumulators, etc.)
A variety of strategies can be adopted in storing electrical energy. Examples include:
– Centralized storage
– Decentralized storage
– Hybrid solutions
As we can see, there are a lot of questions waiting for an answer. We have to address this subject further, not run from it due to unsolved issues in the development of renewable energy. This subject will be discussed later in this blog.