Understanding Energy Series: Renewable Intermittency and How to Alleviate It  

When it comes to renewables, it’s important to look at their limitations for generating power. With solar, the sun doesn’t always shine, with wind turbines, sometimes there’s little or no wind. So what can we do to help eliminate energy intermittency?


What happens when the power isn’t there?

For the energy sector, it involves building in contingencies. You can build in extra capacity to help alleviate intermittency on the grid when one or another renewable power source is producing at sub-par levels. Whether that’s covered by traditional coal, natural gas or nuclear, these sources also need to be part of an energy production portfolio. You could also purchase excess capacity from another country to cover short term downtimes. This ensures a steady flow of electricity and will maintain the frequency that’s needed to keep the grid stable.


Any other strategy to help eliminate downtime?

Another strategy has been storage. Battery storage is the most obvious way to keep renewable power generation going during the night or when the weather isn’t cooperating. Elon Musk famously made a bet on Twitter in 2017, where he said that he could fix Southern Australia’s power insecurity within 100 days. His solution? A big Tesla battery. Actually the largest in the world.


However, battery storage should only be a part of your energy strategy. It’s true that it can help a failing power supply recover, but because of the costs and the limited amount of energy it can quickly add to the grid, it shouldn’t be thought of as a solution to base loads over a long period of time. For that, you’ll need to have more diversity in your energy production.


While Elon’s Tesla battery has been tested several times since then, it has the protection of normal fossil fuel energy production. And it has to, because of the insecurity, not only of demand for power, but also the variable production rates of renewables.


What about private power grids?

Private power grids, or private wire electricity supply, are exactly what they sound like. It’s “on-site” or “behind the meter” power generation. Power is supplied directly to an end-user using a private, unlicensed, wire. Think of a company with a large warehouse partnering with a solar company. The solar company installs the solar panels on the warehouse and the warehouse buys the electricity generated at a discounted price.


Both parties win. The energy producer is able to sell above wholesale price and the business is able to purchase below market price. However, the reason there’s so much margin left on both sides is that private grids avoid all of the initiative costs of the public grid. That means that initiatives that require energy producers to invest a portion of their proceeds to support energy renewal, for instance, are ignored. It’s also costly to maintain and there have been rumblings that regulatory changes are coming to close the gap. While going vertical in your power supply, may alleviate intermittency issues, it opens your company up to a whole host of other costs, including maintenance and possible fees or fines. 


Ask an expert

At Kinect Energy Group, we’re working on creating transparency within the energy sector. Trying to educate customers on new technologies, like the Tesla battery, while also explaining what limitations those new technologies have.


As with all trading, diversity is required. Whether its Power Purchase Agreements or fossil fuel -backed, peak power production, Kinect Energy Group can help set a course to eliminate the ups and downs of the energy market.


At Kinect Energy Group, we’re specialized in analyzing energy market forces and regulatory changes. If your company is affected by any of these changes, get in touch at info@kinectenergy.com to find out how we can help.