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Article | February 21, 2020
Virtually all the world’s demand for electricity to run transport and to heat and cool homes and offices, as well as to provide the power demanded by industry, could be met by renewable energy by mid-century. This is the consensus of 47 peer-reviewed research papers from 13 independent groups with a total of 91 authors that have been brought together by Stanford University in California. Some of the papers take a broad sweep across the world, adding together the potential for each technology to see if individual countries or whole regions could survive on renewables.
A growing number of homeowners in the United States are turning to renewable energy sources to provide power for their homes. Solar power systems only need sunlight to power your home and vehicle, recharge large battery systems, and still allow you to sell extra energy to your utility company. Wind power can perform the same functions by producing energy from wind-powered turbines. Both depend on often volatile forces of nature, but overall, solar panels provide more consistent energy. Solar panels don't include moving components, as wind production units do. These and other differences play important roles in deciding which renewable energy option is best for you.
The U.S. solar industry is preparing to argue that its workers are essential to the economy as it copes with a growing pile of government-mandated shutdowns to combat the spread of COVID-19. State-, county- and city-wide shutdowns, which are already in place in California, the nation's largest solar market, as well as New York and Dallas County, Texas, largely called for employees of “nonessential” sectors to stay home; the orders now cover about 20 percent of U.S. residents, according to the New York Times.
Electricity is a unique kind of commodity— although it is not perishable, it is (still) hard to store on a large scale. Electricity must be generated relatively close to where it is demanded and at the time it is demanded. Therefore, operators must constantly keep an eye on the use of electricity. When demand is high, operators will signal the generators to increase their output; if less, generators get the instruction to generate less electricity. Roughly, this is how the grid works. The devil is in the details: the flexibility of power plants is unique to its type. Nuclear and coal power plants take the longest to start up and shut down, followed by oil/diesel power plants.
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