With the emphasis on renewables for electrical power generation, there has been a plethora of proposals on how to achieve up to 100% of the planet’s electrical needs from renewables.
There was well thought out proposal published in the Scientific American which demonstrated how renewable energy production and storage could be used in the United States of America. The proposal was to install approximately 250,000 square miles of photovoltaic panels in the deserts of south western, desert regions. The power generated by the photovoltaic panels was to be distributed by a new transmission grid, to those centres which consumed the power. During the day, the power was to run compressors at the power consumption areas e.g. cities. The air compressors would produce compressed air which would be stored in underground caverns. In the evenings, the compressed air would be mixed with natural gas and used to run gas turbines to produce electricity. The estimated cost was hundreds of billions of dollar and the construction time was decades.
In Europe, there was a proposal to install vast tracts of photovoltaic panels in the Saharan deserts of northern Africa. Undersea transmission lines were to be installed in the Mediterranean Sea to bring the generated power to Europe.
The amount of electrical power generation produced from wind has been increasing significantly. Wind turbines have been increasing in capacity and in the number deployed in each wind farms. The focus has been for offshore wind farms because of the better wind availability. The UK government has recently announced plans to build the largest wind farm in the world. This is the East Anglia One wind farm, off the coast of Suffolk. The plan is to install up to 240 wind turbines, which will generate enough for around 820,000 homes.
In the meantime, there is ITER. What is ITER? ITER is an international collaboration project to demonstrate the feasibility of fusion energy, which could be used as a new source of power. The fusion releases energy which could be used to produce steam for steam turbines to produce electricity. If successful, the fusion power could be a clean, sustainable source of energy.
The research into the possibilities of fusion power began in the 1920s, when it was understood how energy could be produced by combining hydrogen to form helium.
The ITER project is located in France and it is a collaboration between the European Union and six countries – the former Soviet Union, the United States of America, Japan, and the People’s Republic of China, the Republic of Korea and India.
Q symbolises the ratio of the fusion power output to the input power. The scientific goal of the ITER project is to achieve Q>=10. That is, the project would deliver ten times the power it consumes.
It successful, the project would test technologies which could be used to commercialise the use of fusion power. The fusion power station could be located close to where the power is consumed, because it is independent of fossil fuels, wind and solar power.
In the future, it may then be possible to have a stable grid using energy that is clean and sustainable, with a combination of distributed power from renewables and larger, centralised fusion, power plants.
BESST can provide designs for power and control systems, regardless of the source of power generation.