If you answered “renewables”, you would have lots of company in Europe, Asia, and the USA. If you answered “natural gas”, you would have lots of friends in the USA and here in Qatar. If you answered “energy storage”, you would be in a vocal minority. At CMU, we have been studying the detailed characteristics of all these to see how they might change the current electric grid. The discussion about renewable electricity has recently benefited from a scarce commodity: data. We now understand the character of fluctuations in power output from wind and solar power. Using the measured variations and moderate time resolution emissions data from natural gas generators as they ramp up and down, we can estimate additional air emissions from these generators caused by wind and solar. We know when the connecting wind farms together with transmission lines to reduce variability reaches a point of diminishing returns, and are starting to learn how to best use new-technology batteries in the grid.
A Richard M. Cyert Distinguished Lecture in Business Management.
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