Some people worry that an energy system with a high proportion of renewable energy is not as reliable as an energy system based on fossil fuels. It is true that the renewable energy system is relatively new and there are some uncertainties, but we have practical solutions. In summary, there are four ways to ensure the durability, stability, and security of the future low-carbon energy system.
1. First of all, to “achieve zero emissions” requires careful and comprehensive long-term planning.
Therefore, every country/region that is committed to achieving net-zero emissions should develop a roadmap and specify the timetable for the following three milestones:
When and how much to reduce carbon dioxide emissions per unit of GDP (carbon intensity);
When will the total carbon dioxide emissions reach the peak;
When will net zero emissions be achieved?
The goal set by our country is: by 2030, the carbon intensity will be reduced by 60% to 65% compared to 2005;
Before 2030, carbon dioxide emissions will reach their peak;
By 2060, achieve carbon neutrality. In the process of achieving the above goals, the reliability of the energy system should always be paid attention to when planning.
In terms of reducing carbon intensity, “transition technologies” still have room for further utilization, such as improving the efficiency of existing energy facilities based on fossil fuels and “changing coal to gas”. Although natural gas is still a fossil fuel, its carbon emissions are 50% to 60% lower than that of coal, and it can be operated flexibly to balance the intermittent nature of solar and wind energy.
2. Renewable energy should be available at any time, no matter in winter or summer, it can meet all kinds of energy needs throughout the day.
Although energy storage technology is essential, a diversified renewable energy portfolio can make the energy system more secure.
In Qinghai Province, China, an 850 MW solar photovoltaic power station and Longyangxia Hydropower Station with an installed capacity of 1,280 MW were connected to the grid, becoming the world’s first hydro-photovoltaic photovoltaic power plant. The lack of intermittent solar energy provides predictable power output.
3. Miniaturized customized solutions
The highly integrated and centralized large-scale system can be turned into a decentralized and local small-scale system. By providing users with tailor-made solutions to optimize energy demand, consumption and management, the energy system will also be less susceptible to large-scale power outages. The application of digital technology can enhance the energy system’s ability to withstand destructive events, limit its impact, adapt to its consequences, and quickly restore power.
At the same time, the increasing digitization of infrastructure is also a double-edged sword: digitization brings additional challenges, requiring the protection of energy supply chains and services from cyber-attacks. The threat of cyber-attacks must be addressed while enhancing the climate resilience of energy infrastructure. As far as the network’s ability to withstand pressure is concerned, blockchain is very useful because it has the ability to defend against network attacks.
4. Regional cooperation is an effective way to ensure the integrity of the global energy system.
The concept of “One Sun, One World, One Grid” (OSOWOG) hopes to connect 140 countries and regions through a common grid that can be used to transfer solar power. Supporting this concept is the vision of “the sun never sets”, that is, no matter when there will be a corner of the earth shining the sun.
Similarly, China has been promoting global energy interconnection and using it as a modern energy system platform for the large-scale development, transmission, and utilization of renewable energy resources on a global scale. To realize the dream of “one sun, one world, one power grid” and global energy interconnection, we can only proceed step by step. We must first build national grids in different regions of the world and achieve inter-regional interconnection, and at the same time build community microgrids in various countries/regions.
Innovation is the key to this process. Advanced conductors can both reduce energy consumption and strengthen power transmission, and be combined with UAV technology to improve the operating efficiency and safety of the system.
In the post-epidemic world, efforts should be made to take into account “fairness” during the energy transition to ensure that everyone can obtain guaranteed clean energy anytime and anywhere.
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