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Implications of diurnal and seasonal variations in renewable energy generation for large scale energy storage
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Large scale implementation of solar and wind powered renewable electricity generation will use up to continent sized connected electricity grids built to distribute the locally fluctuating power. Systematic power output variation will then become manifest since solar power has an evident diurnal period, but also surface winds—which are driven by surface temperatures—follow a diurnal periodic behavior lagging about 4 h in time. On an ordinary day a strong diurnal varying renewable electricity generation results when combining wind and solar power on such continent sized grid. Comparison with possible demand patterns indicates that coping with such systematically varying generation will require large scale renewable energy storage and conversion for timescales and storage capacities of at least up to half a day. Seasonal timescales for versatile, high quality, generally applicable, energy conversion and storage are equally essential since the continent wide insolation varies a factor ∼3, e.g., in Europe and Northern Africa together. A first order model for estimating required energy storage and conversion magnitudes is presented, taking into account potential diurnal and seasonal energy demand and generation patterns. A few scalable energy storage methods are briefly indicated.
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