Washington: Rekindling hope for the wider use of renewable energy sources, a study shows improved storage technologies and "hybrid" systems can provide a more steady flow of electricity.
A drawback in the use of alternative energy systems has been that they are too variable.
If the wind does not blow or the sun does not shine, a completely different energy system has to be available to pick up the slack.
This problem may be addressed with enhanced energy storage technology or by developing "hybrid" systems in which one form of renewable energy is ramping up even while the other is declining.
"The key to greater use of these and other technologies is to match them in smart-grid, connected systems. This is already being done successfully in a number of countries and the approach could be expanded," said Anna Kelly, research scholar at the School of Public Policy in Oregon State University, US.
By making more sophisticated use of that basic concept in a connected grid, and pairing it with more advanced forms of energy storage, the door could be opened for a much wider use of renewable energy systems.
This will also take care of the price issue.
"By helping to address the price issue, renewable energy is being produced in hybrid systems by real, private companies that are making real money," Kelly explained.
The long-term goal is to identify technologies that can work in a hybrid system that offers consistency, dependability and does not rely on fossil fuels.
"With development, the cost of these hybrid systems will decrease and become increasingly competitive, hopefully playing a larger role in power generation in the future," concluded the researchers.
The study appeared in The Electricity Journal.