You have heard of aquatic droughts. Could “energy” droughts be next?

“In a fully renewable world, we would need to develop nuclear fuel or hydrogen, or carbon recycling, or add a lot more renewable energy generation capacity, if we are to avoid burning fossil fuels. “, did he declare.

In times of low rainfall, water managers keep fresh water flowing through the tap by drawing from municipal reservoirs or underground aquifers. Solar and wind power systems have no equivalent backup. Batteries used to store excess solar and wind power on unusually bright and windy days only hold their charge for a few hours, and at most a few days. Hydroelectric plants provide a potential buffer, Lall said, but not long enough to carry the system through an extended dry spell of intermittent sun and wind.

“We won’t solve the problem by building a larger network,” he said. “Electric network operators are aiming for 99.99% reliability, while water managers are striving for 90% reliability. You can see how difficult this game will be for the energy industry, and how valuable seasonal and longer term forecasts could be.

In the next phase of research, Lall will work with Columbia Engineering professors Vijay Modi and Bolun Xu to see if they can predict both energetic droughts and “floods,” when the system generates a surplus of energies. renewable. Armed with these projections, they hope to predict the rise and fall of energy prices.

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