Thinking about solar power and the current concerns regarding the increased costs of integrating wind power into the grid… Germany is learning first hand how grids designed for central power generation may not be adequate for significant distributed generation.
See the following article in the NewScientist:
Plant and Grid operators are finding that there are minimum generation requirements on the lines. You can’t turn a large coal fired boiler down below a safe minimum load, and if you take too many plants offline to allow solar and wind to cover loads during the middle of the day, the grid may not be able to recover when the sun sets and the air goes still – all at the same time people are heading home, re-energizing their homes and firing up the oven for dinner.
Once again it comes back to sufficient energy storage capabilities on the grid. Whether that means pumped storage, hydrogen production, geothermal heat wells, fly-wheels or something altogether new is still a question for debate. Maybe a mix of all the above technologies, along with a smattering of electric car batteries will be the answer.
One thing is for certain, most have us have gotten used to having clean, reliable power. I don’t think we’ll be willing to give it up anytime soon.