Intermittent generation refers to the availability of electricity for a specific period of time. When the weather is unfavorable, the efficiency of wind, solar, geothermal, and hydropower decreases, which can result in inconsistent and unreliable electricity generation. Because of this, these technologies can’t provide year-round electricity.

Hydropower, a significant component of global electricity generation, is affected by seasons and water currents. Wind and solar power rely on varying factors, such as the concentration and speed of the wind and the amount of solar radiation.

These factors make hydroelectric, wind, and solar power sources non-dispatchable, which means they can’t be turned on and off to provide the needed electricity to society.

Why is intermittent energy an issue?

The need for reliable renewable energy sources can affect the electricity system’s reliability. Integrating these technologies into the grid is very challenging due to the varying factors that affect energy generation.

The electricity demand and supply balance must be calculated to ensure the system is stable and predictable.

Renewable sources such as wind and solar power can sometimes generate excessive force that the electricity grid can’t handle. For instance, if the wind speeds are high but the demand is low, the frequency of the turbines will increase. On the other hand, if the wind speeds are low but the demand is high, the frequency of the turbines will drop. These fluctuations can affect the system and cause costly repairs.

 Energy Storage

An energy storage system is a technology that uses a single energy point to provide a continuous electricity supply. For instance, storing the water behind a hydroelectric dam, this type of energy storage can be used.

 As technology improves, energy storage will play an important role in the electricity grid’s integration. This technology will allow for the creation of more jobs in the field.

 An energy storage system should handle the excess energy that can be generated by variable sources in order to provide on-demand electricity. These systems can help solve the intermittent power issue by allowing the electricity grid to be more flexible. Integrating renewable sources such as wind, solar, and geothermal can create a cleaner energy mix.

In Denmark, there are three energy storage facilities that use electrochemical batteries. Other facilities that have been pre-established are also being used to address the issue. For instance, in the Netherlands, a company is currently testing an electrolyzer to create green hydrogen from excess wind energy.

Despite the challenges that come with integrating renewable sources into the electricity grid, it’s still important that action is taken now to address climate change. 

Resolving the intermittent generation problem for the future

The complexity of integrating variable sources into the electricity grid is much lower than it was during the 1870s when power generation systems were first created. As technology continues to improve, the cost of implementing energy storage systems will continue to drop. This will allow the market to adopt the latest innovations in the industry easily.