Matching renewable energy demand and supply

The challenge
Part of solving the global challenge of securing sustainable energy for all is to match demand with supply. Matching consumption with production becomes a more acute challenge in a sustainable energy system with increasing amounts of renewable energy that offer fluctuations and unpredictability. For example, in windy periods, providing large amounts of clean energy is a relatively simple task and in times with little wind, we have limited or zero access to clean energy.

The future
To successfully match energy demand with supply, a smart energy system that offers high amounts of flexibility to accommodate fluctuations in the energy supply is needed. A smart and flexible energy system can be achieved in a number of ways depending on a country’s resources and context, and no single technology can do the trick alone.

 

Explore associated sectors

All countries seeking to increase the amount of energy sourced from renewables will encounter the challenge of matching energy consumption with energy production. As a result, a sustainable energy system requires high levels of flexibility to accommodate the energy fluctuations that arise from renewable sources. Achieving a flexible energy system involves looking into solutions of how to store electricity and thermal energy (heating and cooling) for later use, as well as exploiting the potential of smart buildings as flexible components in a diverse energy system. Integrating energy systems across electricity, thermal energy and transportation also offer flexibility to the energy system through, for example, co-producing heat and power. Smart meters and big data also play a central role in matching energy demand and supply, particularly when it comes to harnessing the potential for flexibility on the demand-side.

However, to secure clean energy for the world’s population, matching energy demand and supply is not the only solution to the problem. It requires a combined effort of different instruments and approaches, which altogether solve energy issues. Firstly, each country must decide on their own ideal way to clean energy production e.g. wind energy, hydropower, bioenergy, solar energy, etc., which consequently should be integrated in smart energy system. For it to be successful and achieve popular support, the production and integration of renewable energy sources must be cost-effective and competitive with traditional energy sources. Efficient heating and cooling of commercial and private buildings also play a dominant role in securing clean energy for all with co-production of e.g. electricity and thermal energy being a highly efficient way of producing energy. Following the assumption that the best type of energy is energy not used, methods to achieve increased energy efficiency are also an important component.

Finally, although we have experienced major technological improvements during the past decades, energy test and demonstration is still crucial in reaching objectives of phasing out fossil fuels in energy systems around the world in a cost-efficient manner, meaning governments and countries should also look at investments in research and development.

Connect with us: Imke Ernst, Project Manager, ier@stateofgreen.com