Can a country get 90 percent of its power from renewables like solar and wind? Writing at Greentech Solar, Michael Kanellos refers us to a new study that clearly answers "yes."
A paper that will soon come out from the National Solar Energy Center in Israel hypothesizes that the country -- which now only gets a tiny fraction of its power from solar -- could conceivably boost the total to 90 percent with things like vanadium redox flow batteries and pumped hydro storage, according to David Faiman, the director of the center and chair of the department of solar energy and environmental physics at Ben-Gurion University here.
...add storage to allow a utility to deliver solar power generated during the morning and afternoon in the evening and, through the magic of storage, the figure zooms dramatically. The country gets an inordinate amount of sun and areas like the Negev Desert in the south still sport quite a bit of open space. Plus, some of the intellectual property for concentrating PV comes from the region.
“PV alone could provide 90 percent of Israel’s electricity needs with the appropriate storage,” he said. “Israel shouldn’t build more coal plants and it shouldn’t even think of building nuclear plants.”
The remaining 10 percent could be provided by gas-burning power plants: Most of the power would be needed at night. The country’s current goal is to get 10 percent of its power from renewables by 2020. Power costs around half a shekel, or 15 cents a kilowatt-hour, and feed-in tariffs have recently dipped below 2 shekels.
In addition to Kanellos' article, we'd also suggest you check out this Scientific American article, which explains how to use "wind, water and solar" to "provide 100 percent of the world's energy, eliminating all fossil fuels." Of course, transforming the world's energy economy from a dirty, depletable model to a clean, renewable one is going to be a major undertaking. However, as both these articles illustrate, moving from fossil fuels to renewables is something that is both technically and economically feasible. The only question is, which countries will be the leaders, which will be the followers, and which will be left in the dust?