What happens to my renewable energy supply when the wind doesn't blow and the sun doesn't shine?

People love to say renewable energy is unreliable. Big obstacle or minor hurdle?

One of the most common criticisms of renewable energy is that it isn't reliable. If it isn't sunny, solar can't produce power. If there is no wind, wind turbines can't turn. This seems like a big obstacle, but it's really just a minor hurdle.

There are two ways to get around this snag

The first is a diverse energy supply. Sure, if we rely 100% on wind power, we will probably have a problem. But there are many other renewable energy sources. The likelihood of the tides stopping is pretty low (unless someone steals the moon :D), and hydropower, geothermal, biogas and solar can all work together to buffer a wind calm. Unlike nuclear and coal plants, which have to be kept warm all the time, biomethane and hydropower can be turned on and off in seconds. This makes energy supply much easier.

This approach will be indispensable for many of the problems that the climate crisis is causing.

With complex and multi-layered problems, we can rarely rely on a single solution, but must look at all possible solutions simultaneously and, where possible, implement them.

With renewable energies, there are many options, and you're probably thinking to yourself, "That's great! But aren't we wasting a lot of energy if there is TOO MUCH wind and we don't need it? Not really. If the wind blows particularly strongly and covers more than 100% of our electricity needs, we can transmit the surplus to the entire DACH region and store it in pumped storage power plants, for example, WIN WIN!

This brings us to the second important way to make renewable energies reliable:

Storage. Storing energy for a rainy day. A calm, windless, rainy day. We have just mentioned water storage, but there are other ways to store energy. New York State uses 200 flywheels, each weighing 1.3 tonnes, to store 20 megawatts, which is about the equivalent of 20,000 homes. Battery technology is also a very exciting field. There are some pilot projects that lose little energy and have great potential.

At the moment, a lot of coal and nuclear energy is wasted overnight when it is not needed because they cannot simply be switched off. Energy storage allows us to be more efficient with the energy we currently have and paves the way for renewable energy.

There is no reason to believe that 100% renewable energy is a dream. We are not naïve enough to believe that this will be achievable overnight, but hopefully this post will help to convince the few sceptics, that we can rely on clean energy. The future is renewable!