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Showing posts from November, 2022

Speculations on Innovation in the Renewable Energy Sector

Wright's Law , a the lesser known cousin of Moore's Law, states, that in most industries, unit-costs decrease by X percent for any doubling of the production volume. In addition, a growing amount of money and attention focused on a particular product tends to increase the opportunity for internal innovation to be successful, specially where there are high degrees of freedom and substitutability without consumers noticing a difference. Internal innovation tends to be focused on making existing products better or cheaper while external innovation focuses on what customers might actually need or want. Internal innovation is often incremental, low friction and often invisible, while external innovation is often disruptive and requires changes in customer behavior. While the cost of solar, wind or battery technologies has dropped significantly over the last decades, the current research pipeline shows plenty of potential for significant efficiency improvements. If I were a cleantech

The case for batch-mode electricity

Historically the service provided by electrical utilities has been that of 24/7 instant power, available at the flip of a switch. The keys to providing such a service are power sources which can produce electricity on demand at any time as well as a power grid with plenty of spare capacity for extreme circumstances. In the retail price of electricity, the cost of generation is often a small part (around 5-10 cents) and dwarfed by the cost of the delivery network as well as the cost of over-provisioning in order to ensure a high level of service availability. The decarbonization of the energy sector is putting pressure on this model from two sides. On one hand, we are replacing fossil fuel power plants which can produce electricity on more or less on demand with wind and solar plants which produce electricity intermittently based on the current availability of wind or sunlight. Wind and solar generators can be combined with sufficient storage into a hybrid power plant which can largely