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Why Expanded Alternative Energy Increases the Need for Natural Gas

John Miller — The Energy Collective — January 28, 2013

Renewable wind and solar power are important solutions to reducing carbon emissions.  These technologies have improved substantially in recent years.  Despite very significant advancements, wind and solar power costs continue to be greater than existing low carbon alternatives such as natural gas.  In addition expanding variable wind and solar power requires increasing amounts of peaking power backup capacity to properly control and maintain critical power grids reliabilities.  Why does expansion of wind and solar power continue to require increasing levels of natural gas electric power generation?

Daily Electric Power Demand Varies – When you woke up this morning you probably turned on the lights and might have turned up the heat to take the chill off the room.  You may have prepared a hot breakfast, and either turned on the TV to check the weather and traffic reports, or went on-line to check your emails.  Before you left the house you also might have turned on the dish washer and possibly started the day’s laundry.   Many of these activities are fairly common for most people in preparing themselves for the day’s activities.  While you were preparing yourself for the day, many commercial businesses, stores, offices, public schools, etc. also began opening and powering up their daily operations.

What most people do not think much about is that their electric power demand varies significantly during the day and the power grid operations must be continuously adjusted to meet changing demands.  For example, individual residences power consumption increases from minimum levels to maximum levels as the day progresses.

(To continue reading article and view charts, click here)

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