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The wind doesn’t always blow – and that’s ok
Some people think this means we’ll always need lots of giant coal, gas or nuclear power stations (sometimes called ‘baseload’) to keep the lights on. But that’s not really how it works anymore.
Luckily, internet commenters weren’t the first to discover weather or night-time. In fact, people have been working on solving intermittency for a while. Thanks to them, we now know that a good mix of renewable energy can do the job. Here’s how…
Wire countries together to share power
Imagine if we could pinch a bit of solar from Spain when we’re low on power. Well, imagine no more.
We’ve already built a few undersea cables called ‘interconnectors’ across to mainland Europe. These allow us to share energy supplies with other countries, and there are plenty more on the way. So if the wind drops in the UK, we can ask our friends in Denmark to share their energy with us.
Shift power demand away from peak times
So far we’ve talked about sharing and storing the energy we produce, but what about the energy we’re using?
In the UK, demand for electricity peaks during cold winter evenings. These peaks put a lot of strain on the system. But now we’ve got the technology to control the other side of the equation, shifting some of that demand to times when there’s more spare power. And the more demand we can shift, the fewer giant power stations we need.
We’ve now got the technology to shift demand to times when there’s more spare power.