Published on Monday, March 8, 2010 by Facing South
Challenging Conventional Wisdom on Renewable Energy's Limits
In making the case for a rapid conversion away from heavily polluting energy sources like coal and nuclear power to cleaner generation, renewable energy advocates often confront the argument that their scheme is impossible due to the intermittent nature of sun and wind.
But a groundbreaking study  out of
"North Carolina utilities and regulators and those in other states should take this template, refine it, and make a renewable electricity future a reality," said IEER executive director Arjun Makhijani. (photo by flickr user Johnny Jupiter Photo)
"Even though the wind does not blow nor the sun shine all the time, careful management, readily available storage and other renewable sources can produce nearly all the electricity North Carolinians consume," said author John Blackburn, professor emeritus of economics and former chancellor at Duke University in Durham, N.C.. He's also the author of the books "The Renewable Energy Alternative"  and "Solar in
The study was published last week by the Maryland-based Institute for Energy and Environmental Research , whose executive director, Arjun Makhijani, called it landmark research. "North Carolina utilities and regulators and those in other states should take this template, refine it, and make a renewable electricity future a reality," he said.
Blackburn used hourly
The study figured in projected energy efficiency by assuming an annual utility load of 90 billion kilowatt-hours, slightly less than the current 125 billion kWh load, and by calculating average hourly loads from Duke Energy's 2006 load profile with modifications to show some reduction in summer and winter peaks due to more efficient buildings. It also assumed increased storage capacity from a smarter electrical grid.
In the end, with those conditions met, Blackburn calculated that the required auxiliary generation from conventional power plants to fill in the gaps would amount to only 6% of the annual total generation required to meet demand in
"This goes to the heart of the argument by power companies that have long dismissed solar and wind as future technologies," said Jim Warren, executive director of the N.C. Waste Awareness and Reduction Network , a Durham, N.C.-based nonprofit that provided research assistance to
The study was released just days after a new poll  from
© Copyright 2010 by the Institute for Southern Studies
URL to article: http://www.commondreams.org/headline/2010/03/08-3
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