The whole world is worried about global warming caused by increasing concentrations of carbon dioxide (CO₂) in the atmosphere. Nevertheless, the share of renewable resources in energy production is growing very slowly.
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The spread of usage of renewables is facing problems such as low financial returns or spatial and temporal incompatibility between the demand and the supply. In this article, we will explain the temporal incompatibility with the help of a graph in the shape of a duck – the Duck curve.
Renewable but unpredictable
In recent years, we have witnessed an increase in discussions about the necessity of reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Not only activists, such as Greta Thunberg with her climate strikes, have played a part to help in this matter. More and more states are committing to dramatic emission reduction as well.
In order to release less CO₂ into the atmosphere, we need to produce more energy from renewable sources such as sunlight, wind or water. However, their greatest disadvantage is the unpredictability of their energy output, as it is highly dependant on the weather conditions. Making energy production plans while relying on these sources is very difficult, as they tend to be quite unreliable. That definitely doesn’t mean we should give up on them as there are ways to minimize and possibly eliminate those deficiencies altogether.
The solar energy in practice
Imagine a beautiful sunny morning. You and your children are waking up. You make your morning coffee and turn on the TV as a background while preparing a toast for breakfast. You jump in a nice hot shower, all before leaving for work. It’s 8:00 am and your solar panel is just starting to produce energy, although your home has just experienced one of the two peaks of its daily energy consumption. At noon it’s exactly the opposite. The panel works at full potential, but since you are not at home, your energy consumption is minimal. When you come back home in the evening and turn on the various electrical appliances again, the sun slowly sets and the panel stops producing energy.
This example illustrates the disharmony of solar energy production and consumption. If we tried to project it into a graph, we would get a curve resembling a duck.