How Much Energy Storage can We Afford? On the Need for a Sunflower Society, Aligning Demand with Renewable Supply

Biophys Econ Sust. 2022;7(2):3. doi: 10.1007/s41247-022-00097-y. Epub 2022 Apr 28.

ABSTRACT

The worsening climate crisis impels society to accelerate climate action. The attainable speed of the energy transition is ultimately limited by the available energy to build the replacing renewable infrastructures. Decarbonizing the energy system by replacing dispatchable fossil with variable renewable power requires energy storage to match supply with demand. Current storage technologies are energetically expensive to build and operate, thus the demand for storage shapes the fastest possible transition and the probability to exceed 1.5 °C heating. This study explores and quantifies the effect of demanded storage and its technological progress on the fastest possible transition constrained only by energy. The simulation results using three exemplary storage technologies show that storage substantially delays the transition and increases the probability to exceed 1.5 °C heating. Technological progress, if materialized fast, can reduce energy costs of storage; however, storage demand remains a critical driver for climate risks. Consequently, minimizing storage demand through a supply-driven power system effectively reduces climate risks-a paradigm shift towards a solar-aligned “sunflower society”.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: The online version contains supplementary material available at 10.1007/s41247-022-00097-y.

PMID:35600740 | PMC:PMC9113673 | DOI:10.1007/s41247-022-00097-y

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