Renewable energy solutions are often impeded by the lack of stability of power generation due to weather conditions and continuously changing consumption levels. A team of researchers led by Mark Z. Jacobson from Stanford University suggests several solutions to ensuring stable power supply with the use of renewable energy. The work is based on research findings, with the 129 countries divided into 20 regions by geographical and geopolitical criteria and it provides a plan for increasing the RES share in the countries' energy mix to 80% by 2030 and to 100% by 2050.
According to Professor Jacobson, the plan implementation will bring considerable environmental and social effects: "Conversion to 100% consumption of renewable energy will help mitigate global warming effects and prevent millions of death around the globe that are primarily caused by air pollution".
The first virtual model, which was developed by the researchers, provided for maximum use of weather-dependent renewable energy (solar panels and wind generators). However, this energy system option is sensitive to energy shortage in maximum consumption periods; therefore, the second model was expanded with more stable RES (such as geothermal, tidal and hydraulic power plants) and it provides several ways of storing energy, as well as forecasting changes in energy consumption. The researchers managed to calculate the amount of energy provided by the first model, and how generation drops will be compensated by more stable sources and accumulating facilities according to the second model.
They suggest, on the basis of an analysis, three scenarios of combining sources in all 20 regions to avoid emergencies. The potential scenarios also help drastically reduce the power generation cost, and according to preliminary estimates, it will be reduced four times for national budgets. The savings will be provided by the absence of expenses on fossil fuel extraction, transportation and processing; and by reduction of expenses on healthcare and climate, that are caused by the use of carbon fuels.
Thus, based on their research findings, the researchers come to a decisive conclusion that the current level of technical development is able to provide for stable power supply with conversion to renewable energy sources. It will require international cooperation in designing and building new power plants, and the only remaining serious barrier is political.