More and more companies (e.g. Google, Facebook, Apple and Netflix) are setting the goal of being powered by “100% renewable energy”, whether through direct procurement of supplies or offsetting policies.
Yet when the sun stops shining and the wind stops blowing, we can all still watch Game of Thrones. How is this?
The answer lies in how the gap between renewable energy supply and electricity demand on grids is bridged - commonly achieved by fossil-fuelled electricity generation
For electricity, timing is everything. And this calls into question the bold 100% renewable energy claim an increasing number of major corporate consumers are making.
The claim does not typically mean that all energy consumed is generated solely from renewable sources, hour by hour - rather, it means that they procured enough renewable energy on an annual basis to offset 100% of consumption.
And this means that electricity consumed by companies striving to go green will still, at crucial times, depend on fossil fuels.
This is not to dismiss the impact of any company's stated environmental intent but there is a danger that corporates buying renewable energy already supplied to the grid are not directly shifting the mix of power generating fleets away from fossil fuels.
To further decarbonize our electricity system, we need to shift the focus of investment into delivering 100% renewable energy at all times through direct real-time connectivity between renewable energy sources and storage flexibility such as batteries and demand response.
Aside from expanding existing arrays of solar farms and wind turbines, we need longer transmission lines and grid-scale storage to help smooth the supply of green energy around the clock and across the seasons.
This way we can go back to watching Game of Thrones, comforted by the knowledge that the images of Westeros on our TV screens are truly powered by renewable energy.
Hyperion is partnering with clean technology companies across the world who are developing innovation products and projects to create a more sustainable energy system.
For electricity, timing is everything. And this calls into question bold claims an increasing number of major corporate consumers are making of operating on “100 per cent renewable energy”. The claim does not typically mean that all energy consumed by, say, the large data centres of leading US tech giants is generated solely from renewable sources, hour by hour. Rather, it means more narrowly that they procured enough renewable energy on an annual basis to offset 100 per cent of consumption.