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Energy and the Environment

Energy and the Environment

The term intermittency can be used to attribute to the degree at which a power source is unintentionally stopped or made unavailable. Its availability is characterized by uncontrolled changes in output (Hideaki, 2015).

This paper seeks ascertain the significance of intermittency energy and its management as an alternative energy source.

An intermittent energy source is not always available due to some external factors outside one’s direct control. This source is however not necessarily predictable because the tidal power cannot be dispatched to meet the demands of a power system. Intermittent energy source usually relies on using the sources to displace fuel that would be consumed by non-renewable electric stations. Alternatively, the energy could be stored in the form of pumped storage so that it could be used when needed. The energy stored to cater for any incidence of intermittency shortage forms a sustainable energy supply. Latency measures and power backup fulfill the ability of renewable energy supply to produce electricity above the intermittent average.

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Intermittency in Solar Energy

Intermittency apparently affects solar energy because the production of solar electricity is wholly dependent on the amount of light energy dispatched from the sun at any given time and location. The sun energy keeps on varying throughout the day, and these changes from the different seasons. Cloud covers are known to be a big contributing factor to these fluctuations in solar energy as well as the resulting output. These contributing factors are inherently predictable, and some solar thermal systems utilize heat storage to discharge power when the sun is not shining (Zhdankin, et al., 2015).

Intermittency inherently affects solar energy, and cloud cover directly influences this outcome. These factors affecting solar output are fairly predictable (Zhdankin, et al., 2015).

Wind Energy

Wind-generated power is a variable resource that continues fluctuating at any given time. The amount of electricity produced subsequently depends on the speed of the wind, air density, and type of turbines used (Trainer, 2013). In cases when the wind speed is low and less than 2.5 m/s, the wind turbines will not be in a position to generate electricity. Moreover, if the wind speed is exceedingly high, such as over 25 m/s, the turbines will be forced to stop in order to avoid the infrastructure being destroyed by the strong velocity of the wind (Trainer, 2013). The intermittency of wind energy lies in the fact that a single wind turbine is highly variable, and this is dependent on the location. Sea breezes are considered to be more constant than land breezes. A wind farm is known to be highly reliable though the output at any particular time varies significantly due to the decreasing wind speeds (Hideaki, 2015).

Reliability cost

Reliability Cost

Nature of the Problems Associated with the Intermittency in Space and Time of Solar Energy Sources

The problems associated with intermittency depend on the fact that power grids were designed around the concept of large and controllable generators. This has changed because the network operators have altered the plans to a three-phase system aimed at ensuring that the power plants produce the appropriate quantity of electricity at any given time in order to meet consumer’s electricity needs in the market domain. Given the fact that the grids have a very little storage capacity, the balance between supply and demand of the electricity generated is maintained in order to avoid any incidence of the power blackout. The intermittent energy, on the other hand, creates a significant hurdle because it disrupts the conventional design of the electric grid. Its disadvantage is is that its power tends to fluctuate over time forcing the grid operator to adjust its operational procedure regularly (Trainer, 2013). For example, solar energy can only be tapped during the day while the sun is still shining. This means that the grid operator has an obligation to change the day-ahead plan to include generators that can apparently adjust their power output in such a way to compensate for the fluctuating solar energy. Some power plants have been forced to modify their output being obliged to turn off their power during the course of the day so that the energy deliberated from solar is utilized instead of fossil electricity (Trainer, 2013).

There is an evident daily fluctuation in solar energy at any given time. In addition, the solar panels can change abruptly due to the cloud cover. The cloud cover primarily causes variability.. Therefore, it is difficult for the grid operator to estimate the additional electric generation required during the next hour of the day. Consequently, there is a need to make the approximation to assess the exact output range for each particular generator.

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The rate of fluctuations in output from wind or solar energy disrupts the hourly load-following phase of grid planning as well as the real-time balance between total electricity generated by reference to its market demand. In the current technology, the network operator sends a command signal to the power plants within a period of four seconds in order to guarantee that the total energy injected into the system corresponds to the total power withdrawn. Due to the variability aspect comprising of high magnitude of sudden power fluctuation to the lower limits or upper voltage range, the grid operator requires more reserve energy in order to be in a position to maintain a steady power supply. Moreover, it is a significant challenge to intermittency. The process requires more resources as well as more reserves power in the stored form, ready to respond to the energy demands at any given time in compliance with the needs of the consumers. In the case of intermittency and uncertainty, the functioning of the grid is characterized by disruption of grid’s operation and is essentially impossible to compensate for the additional intermittency.


The renewable energy source can be significantly predicted by the number of renewable generators connected with the grid increases over time. The Law of Large Numbers dictates that the collective output from the various wind turbine and solar panel directed to the grid is essentially less spontaneous as compared to the output of a single individual generator.

Information harnessed through Atmospheric Radiation Measurement program depicts precisely how aggregating solar resources across utility territory significantly reduce second-to-second variations in power output even with the factor of twenty locations only combined (Perez et al., 2009). Given the fact that the grid is only mandated with the responsibility of balancing the total amount of renewable generation with the rest of the network, the Law of Large Numbers causes the amount of reserve required for a strict a balance of the renewable energy on the grid according to the real-time program.

The Power of Prediction

The law of large numbers has been documented to cause intermittent energy to smooth out its operation with its fluctuations on a second-by-second issue. Recent research in this field has however indicated that it is possible to establish a model plan that can predict the aggregate intermittent power available on the grid.

It is evident that both wind and solar energies are dependent on the models that have been designed with minimal accuracy. Till now, renewable energy covers over twenty percent of Texas annual electricity supply. This fact has been largely dependent on the accurate wind generation forecasting, hence ensuring easier planning. Given the fact that, Texas has a unique isolated grid with no access to extra conventional electricity generation, accurate study and forecasting becomes the possible solution to plan sustainable standard power supply throughout the state.

Wind Energy Prediction Model

Wind Energy Prediction Model

(Yekini Suberu et al., 2014)

The model specified above has been designed by the National Center for Atmospheric Research and displays the actual and the projected output from wind farms owned by Xcel Energy (Yekini Suberu et al., 2014).


Economic evaluations are meant to examine the economic viability of the project in terms of cost per unit. It is necessary to compare the intermittent generating technologies, such as wind and solar, with dispatching technologies in order to assess the leveed cost per MWh.

Possible Remedies

Energy storage is one of the biggest hurdles related to renewable energy and the ability to establish a reliable storage when using intermittent energy source remains to be the greatest achievement in this segment. Considering photovoltaics (PV) and wind turbines, a lot of modifications and improvements have been made over the years to make them more sustainable and reliable, hence boosting their marketability through the safe storage. This guarantees energy availability in situations when the sun is not shining and the wind velocity is below 2 m/s. The innovation of grid storage serves these purposes of covering the fluctuating intermittent energy. A combination of systems, such as the thermal and metal battery, has provided possible storage alternatives. It has been improved to increase the efficiency of energy storage for the corporate and other business uses. This forms part of an integration of renewable energies into the existing power grid.

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Due to the advancement of technology, the future of intermittent energy seems more promising because the innovations are permanently introduced and aimed at integrating and diversifying energy sources in the general domain. This is a great advantage of renewable sources since innovations are utilized to contribute to the “emerging internet”.

Hydro energy in storage form is Compressed Air Energy Storage, which is essentially one of the leading approaches incorporated to store energies produced from the wind. Since high winds are evident during night hours, there is a need to harness it at such optimal time and utilize it when needed most, namely during the day. Consequently, there is a need to adopt a storage form, in which CAES may be used as one of the most reliable ways of storing energy. CAES takes the excess off-peak wind power and utilizes it when needed. It essentially pumps air into salt mines and depleted gas reservoirs that have been sealed up for safety. These energy reservoirs are kept at the depth of approximately 3,000 to 6,000 feet underground (Perez et al., 2009).

The high-pressure capacity tanks are fabricated to store compressed air to be used during peak hours to provide the energy at the optimal time when the need arises.

Natural occurring reservoirs have also been used to store the high pressure during off-peak and released during peak hours. The compressed air is released and heated to generate the pressure for turning turbines, hence producing energy whenever needed. CAES can be used for large-scale energy production. Moreover, it has a capacity of 50 to 300 megawatts that can be harnessed with gas turbines to produce a similar amount of power as traditional methods (Zhdankin, et al., 2015).

The recent innovations made in this field were capitalizing on the existing models and modifying isothermal CAES to increase capacity and efficiency in capturing energy from the system with minimal losses (Zhdankin, et al., 2015).

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With regards to storing energy from solar photovoltaics, thermal storage is a reliable option to be exploited. This has led to the increased use of solar power on the energy grid owing to its efficiency and reliability. With the same principle of capturing wind, thermal storage traps heat during peak hours of the day when the sun light is prominent. The heat harnessed is stored in molten salt known to have properties for effectively holding heat in its storage form. The liquid salt penetrates a panel to gather concentrated solar rays. Insulated storage tanks are then used to store the molten salt and can be pumped into steam generators to produce energy whenever the need arises. The power generated can hence be used at night in the absence of solar energy or during rainy days (Hideaki, 2015).

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In conclusion, it is largely evident that, when this intermittent energy is used in tandem with large-scale Concentrated Solar Power technologies, the energy generated is primarily characterized by zero emissions. This means that it is highly efficient and environmentally friendly. It also has a massive capacity able to keep huge energy reservoirs, which are used for commercial and domestic reasons at any time of the day or night. It is also more stable and predictable, and the approach to solar energy as an intermittent source is the most feasible in terms of performance and marketability (Hideaki, 2015). Due to the rampant innovation in the general domain, tremendous progress has been made in this field of renewable energy with the emerging policies for a smart grid system taking center stage. This progress has propelled closer to a clean energy revolution in line with the thesis of finding out its significance and relevance as an alternative energy source.