Do our politicians realize that wind and solar are intermittent power sources?

Something I have wondered for a long time: do the politicians who want to go for 100% wind & solar realize that these power sources are intermittent and therefor balancing and/or storage is needed in the transition? When I look at the competencies of the Minister of Energy, his crew and the energy experts among the politicians, then I fear for the worse. The need for balancing/storage is completely absent in the discussion. We only hear that we need more wind and solar in our energy mix, but never about measures to overcome intermittency.

My initial guess was that they don’t realize it, that they consider intermittent energy sources to be dispatchable energy sources and go from there. Then I saw this tweet from the spokes woman of the Minister of Energy. It seems a statement of the Minister himself:

This shows that he at least realizes that wind & solar are intermittent and therefor storage is important in a continuous working system.

However, it also shows that he currently has no clue how to solve the issue of intermittency, he just “believes in innovation” and “counts on enterprises” to “find solutions”. They are making it up as they go along, hoping that a solution for the intermittency will be found in the future. This is in stark contrast with other power sources that don’t have the same privilege. For example, new developments in nuclear power are not even considered and basically ignored or dismissed.

They are probably silent about this because it could demotivate the public, knowing that the construction of wind mills and solar panels is not the end of the investments, but only the beginning. Do they plan to present the public (the voters) with a fait accompli?

Not sure whether they realize the extent of the problem, more specific seasonal variation and the risk of having an insignificant supply of both solar and wind energy in winter at peak consumption. That is not really clear, not only because it is not mentioned in their communications, but also since they seem to gamble on future innovation of the private sector to solve the issues.

So yes, our politicians seem to realize that wind & solar are intermittent and backup will be a challenge, but that is not so reassuring after all. Knowing that our transition is in the hands of a group of bureaucrats (trained in law and political sciences) who apparently have no real plan to solve intermittency/backup/storage and in the meanwhile are willing to increasing the share of wind & solar while working very hard on phasing out conventional power sources, yet are happy with the prospect of possible future innovation…

What could ever go wrong?

4 thoughts on “Do our politicians realize that wind and solar are intermittent power sources?

  1. chrism56

    Look at the backgrounds of the politicians and their advisers. I would wager that there would be very few if any who had a real engineering degree or any hands on knowledge of the power industry.
    It isn’t helped by the lack of breakthrough by the power industry itself – the politicians’ mantra will be “don’t bring me problems, bring me solutions” without mentioning that the solution acceptable to the politicians is actually the problem. The heads of power companies are often too scared to upset the politicians so won’t talk bluntly.
    Unfortunately, it will take a few big blackouts to bring the public to its senses. The first will be blamed on the power companies, but the second will get the attention of the voters.

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  2. chrism56

    It isn’t only the minister and his staff – it is the whole of government (and the opposition spokespeople as well).

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