Giant pools of hot water can help control the supply of solar and wind energy – and thus help fulfil the ambitions of the Paris climate agreement. By Michael Rothenborg
he road from the Paris Agreement to a lowcarbon society could go through the small Jutland town of Vojens. This might seem an unlikely detour at first, but a look at two central publications from the International Energy Agency (IEA) will show its plausibility. In “IEA Energy Technology Perspectives” the agency zooms in on how to keep global warming below 2 degrees Celsius – a de facto fulfilment of the pledge politicians made in Paris – compared to the business-as-usual scenario of 6 degrees warming. Take electricity, for example. Today fossil fuels dominate the energy mix with a 68% share, but this must be effectively reversed by 2050, when renewables should account for roughly the same share. Achieving this reversal, however, greatly depends on having the ability to store renewable energy, say experts from Yale University and Standard & Poor’s. The credit rating agency calls storage “the final piece in the global energy transition puzzle”. Professor Steven Cohen, Executive Director at the Earth Institute, Columbia University, USA, puts it this way: “Renewable energy is central to the sustainable economy. And because solar and wind power are intermittent, storage, energy efficiency and smart grid technology are critical to the increased use of renewable energy,” he says. A continuous source of fuel Here’s the challenge: Running a commercially viable power plant requires a continuous source
Storage, energy efficiency and smart grid technology are critical to the increased use of renewable energy. Steven Cohen Professor, Columbia University
Storage plays a crucial role in the necessary energy evolution, according to the IEA.