Several countries, including Scotland and the Philippines, have recently announced impressive plans to obtain all of their power from renewable energy. With many countries setting their sights on much lower, incremental goals, these lofty aspirations have jarred the industry and sparked a debate.
Renewable Energy World asked industry executives to share their thoughts and insights on this controversial question:
What are the major barriers that countries face in order to reach 100 percent renewable energy — is this goal always achievable or desirable?
We want to hear your opinion. Share your thoughts in the comments below.
Global Director, Renewable Energy, DNV KEMA
Goals serve an important purpose to ensure effort achieves a larger objective. Yet there's a difference between ambition and goals. Ambition provides inspiration, a rationale for why we want to achieve an objective. Ambition is a stretch, transformational. Goals are practical, measureable actions necessary to achieve the ambition.
Powering a country entirely with renewables can be inspirational, and may be achievable where the environment is blessed with abundant renewables that can be utilized safely, reliably and cost effectively — such as Iceland. But we should examine why we want to achieve a 100 percent renewables goal. Is this the best goal to achieve a larger ambition? Iceland isn't renewable-powered due to a specific goal. It's their best option given local conditions.
Ambition should focus on countries doing their utmost to address global warming for current and future generations with one (of many) goals being the lowest carbon emission system possible while ensuring reliability, safety, and cost efficiency. Power supply diversity that takes advantage of local resources and regional/cross-border transmission grids is a proven method for ensuring system objectives are met. 100 percent supply solutions fail to adequately acknowledge the technical, societal, and costs risks associated with an absolute goal - regardless of the generating technology.
Achieving the final incremental percentages of any goal (speed records, altitude records) is usually difficult, high risk, and impractical given alternatives. Plus, 100 percent renewable goals can quickly become politicized, resulting in delays, distractions or flawed policy that impedes progress toward our ultimate ambition.
As a dedicated, renewable energy professional, I'd like as much zero carbon emitting, renewable generation brought online as possible while ensuring a robust, secure, reliable, and cost effective system for society and our economies. Thus, 100 percent renewable goals will not be the best solution. But we should accept various goals that support the higher ambition.
As global segment director for renewable energy services, Mr. Smith develops and implements the global renewable energy business strategy for DNV KEMA Energy & Sustainability. He is a veteran of the wind industry with 14 years of service performing a wide range of engineering, advisory and project management activities.
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