Just a quick note on the future of energy demand and supply.

in #energylast month


Future demand is going to increase radically. This is for several reasons that are already occurring: the demands of energy-intensive computing power for AI and (if it continues which I suspect it will) crypto mining; growing demand via economic development in Africa and Asia; growing demand for air conditioning as climate change produces hotter summers (especially in Africa and SE Asia).

In trying to estimate how much power will be needed, some people make the mistake of focusing on potential power output (MW or GW) instead of focusing on total energy output (GWH) and dispatchability.

Think of it this way: if you have a gigantic power generator, capable of producing huge amounts of power, but it erratically turns on and off and when off frequently runs far below potential output, all of that being outside of human control, the potential output at any given time isn't the most important issue: what matters is how much energy you actually do manage to get out of it, and what you do when it's not producing much or at all.

On the other hand, you could have a generator that is much more under human control, producing what you need when you need it.

Some people advocate for the first model, arguing that we'll just connect enough of them together, also spending vast money on direct voltage hug transmission lines to connect them all, so that we can shift power power from whichever of these facilities happens up be producing to take care of the areas where little to no energy is being produced.

This is, IMO, vastly silly. Imagine daytime in the US, with storms widely spread across the country, severely limiting wind and solar production. Meanwhile, in much of the rest of the world, it's night so no solar is being produced, and the amount of wind being produced is unpredictable.

It will be necessary that there be enough wind and solar production in many different relatively small geographic locations to ensure that global demand can be met if production has fallen significantly on a particular day in the daytime parts of the world. In addition to the great expense of a vast transmission build out (and/or the expense of vast battery systems), wind and solar will have to be vastly overbuilt because of their low capacity factor and unreliability.

Maybe someone has produced a model that clearly accounts for future global demand and worst case scenarios of low output, to show realistically just what would be required. But if so, I haven't seen it.

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