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

Harald Desing () and Rolf Widmer
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Harald Desing: Empa - Swiss Federal Laboratories for Material Science and Technology
Rolf Widmer: Empa - Swiss Federal Laboratories for Material Science and Technology

Biophysical Economics and Resource Quality, 2022, vol. 7, issue 2, 1-15

Abstract: 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”.

Keywords: Energy transition; Energy storage; Climate risks; Climate crisis; Energy demand management (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2022
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DOI: 10.1007/s41247-022-00097-y

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