Research: Renewable Power Still Needs Natural Gas as Backup

We cannot give up our fossil fuels, after all.

A balance energy mix is needed between renewable power and fossil fuel energy.

Pushing the use of renewable energy doesn’t necessarily mean entirely neglecting the use of natural gas. We still need fossil fuels as a power backup to solar and wind, hence we cannot give them up.

This is the harsh truth –  often mentioned by energy industry officials – which  has been concluded by a recent study of the Massachusetts-based National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) entitled “Bridging the Gap: Do Fast Reacting Fossil Technologies Facilities Renewable Energy Diffusion?”

The report said that a 1 % increase in the share of fast-reacting fossil generation capacity is associated with a 0.88% percent increase in renewable in the long run. The NREB authors added, “The diffusion of renewable energy in the power system implies high supply variability. Lacking economically viable storage options, renewable energy integration has so far been possible thanks to the presence of fast-reacting mid-merit fossil-based technologies, which act as back-up capacity.”

Renewable power and fossil fuel energy mix (Source: Giphy)

Quoted in the report is one grid manager in Germany who said that 8 MW of back-up capacity are required for any 10 MW of wind capacity added to the system.

NBER, which is associated with 25 Nobel Prize winners in economics, published the white paper with an international group of authors namely Elena Verdolini from Italy, Francesco Vona from France, and David Popp from New York. They studied data from 26 Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) countries between 1990 and 2013.

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Research: Renewable Power Still Needs Natural Gas as Backup

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