The Renewable Gas Ask : Part I

I am continuing to consider who will build the ask for Renewable Gas and why.

14.   Power Grid Operators

For now, those who manage electricity distribution are most concerned about how to manage the increasing amounts of sometimes zero cost, but variable, renewable power.

They are working to strengthen grid hardiness, to compensate for uncontrollable, but calculable, changes in supply and demand, as weather conditions alter what is available from wind and sun.

As the amount of renewable power soars, grid operators will increasingly need to turn their attention to energy buffering and energy storage – how to offset demand in one sector of the grid with supply in another; and how to offset excess supply, by offloading power to storage, in order to compensate for scarcity in supply in a later time period.

After pumping water to set up hydroelectricity storage for future use, perhaps the most obvious solution to this question is the use of solid state power batteries – although some are looking at flow batteries and other chemical flow solutions – even including pressurised gas systems and gravity batteries.

The question of which technology is appropriate and cost-efficient for which scenario will depend on ramp times and scale. Where large volumes of energy storage are required, particularly for long periods, many are proposing the making of gas with excess power.

If the power grid operators want to have oversight of much or all of the energy storage they depend on, they might choose to go for some kind of power-to-gas solution, as it will match the kind of scale they need.

15.   Sub-Sector Civil Society Action Takers

Whilst economic actors such as power grid operators as a group will seek solutions that include Renewable Gas, there will be sub-sector groups that might also choose to go down this route. They will need to have a certain scale in order for it to make economic sense, however.

International processes and colloquia, such as C40 Cities, include some bold action takers. Will cities not only ban certain types of cars travelling in their centres, but also require all gas that flows into urban areas be low carbon ?

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