There are many challenges that come with managing a power system, especially one with intermittent renewable energies, or those that are intrinsically time variable in the way they produce energy such as wind power or solar energy. The cost of power generation through renewable energy is declining sharply due to technological advancement as a result of research and development, as well as the expansion of economies of scale. The cost, in particular, of solar photovoltaic cells is declining in recent years, in what is called the Swanson effect. The price of producing electricity through solar photovoltaic cells is called the levelized cost of energy, LCOE. The main challenge in relation to renewable energies going forward is likely to to be their costs but how to operate power systems with high penetrations of intermittent renewable energy. While large generators are able to produce base load power, and are therefore able to match supply and demand at any point in time by the addition of base load power, wind and solar power, which are intermittent, need to have a way to store energy. There are three main ways in which a power system with a high penetration of renewable energies can be balanced while meeting the constraint of deep decarbonization: intermittent renewable energies can be complemented with stable sources of low-carbon power such as nuclear or coal and gas plants that have CCS; the time profile of energy demand can be adjusted to the time profile of power supply, which is called demand management; and we will have to improve our energy storage options, such as batteries or compressed air or hydrogen, at a large scale and competitive cost. This video is part of the module The Key Technological Challenges of Deep Decarbonization.
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