Contributed by Robert Lyman © 2020. Lyman’s bio can be read here.
One of the central claims of those who advocate “decarbonization” of the world’s economy is that in the medium-term future (i.e. by 2050) all energy services can be electrified and that the electricity generation sources can be converted from fossil fuels (mainly coal and natural gas) to renewable energy sources like wind and solar energy. Wind and solar energy, however, are intermittent sources of supply, whose production varies with the time of day and season and not in ways that match consumer demands. When skeptics point this out, the answer decarbonization advocates usually give is that new grid-scale electricity storage systems will be installed to assure security and reliability of supply. The availability and affordability of grid-scale electricity storage is stated as an article of faith, not to be challenged.
This article is intended only to offer some anecdotal evidence that takes issue with “assured storage” thesis. I leave it to those far more expert than I to explore all the technical issues.
Read more of Robert Lyman’s series on renewables.