Renewable energies: myths and truth – common misunderstandings and their clarification

Erneuerbare Energien: Mythen

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“Renewable energies such as sun, water, or wind can cover no more than four percent of our electricity demand in the long term,” proclaimed major German electricity providers in 1993. What a misconception! Today, the share of renewable energies is well above 50 percent. Many such myths circulate around the energy transition. Time for facts.

 

Renewable energies and their importance for the energy transition

Wind turbines, solar parks, hydropower plants: Renewable energies are the prerequisite for phasing out fossil fuels, limiting human-made carbon emissions, and slowing down climate change. It’s about more than just energy supply: sectors like transportation and industry also need to transition to green electricity or green molecules like hydrogen, generated with its help – and according to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), this transition should happen as quickly as possible.

 

Five myths that deter companies from the energy transition

However, it is precisely companies responsible for a large portion of today’s carbon emissions that often shy away from making the transition. This reluctance is not uncommonly due to ignorance or deliberately spread misinformation. Yet, these can be refuted. Five myths about the energy transition, and what is really behind them:

 

Myth 1: “Renewable energies are more expensive than conventional energy sources”

The truth is: The electricity price for end consumers has more than doubled since the beginning of the energy transition. However, renewable energies are not to blame for this; rather, taxes, grid fees, and levies, which together make up almost two-thirds of the electricity price, are contributing factors. Additionally, the costs of fossil raw materials such as coal and gas have increased, thus making electricity from coal and gas power plants more expensive. In contrast, wind and solar power are free. Whenever renewables cover the majority of electricity consumption under favorable weather conditions, prices fall on the electricity exchange. This is increasingly the case as they expand. At the same time, the rising CO2 price continuously increases the cost of fossil energy sources.

 

Myth 2: “Renewable energies cannot meet the energy demand”

The reality is: Wind turbines and solar parks are weather-dependent; they do not generate electricity during calm periods and darkness. However, measures are taken to address these times. This includes expanding the power grids because weather conditions rarely align uniformly across Europe, allowing different regions to support each other. Equally important is the expansion of storage capacity. Electrical battery storage addresses short-term grid fluctuations, while the long-term demand is met by stored green hydrogen in caverns. Crucial for companies with significant heat requirements are thermal storage solutions such as the ThermalBattery™. It enables the utilization of renewable energy benefits without compromising energy availability and stability. The technology can serve as a buffer for unforeseen energy peaks, ensuring that companies achieve their energy goals while simultaneously reducing their carbon emissions.

 

Myth 3: “The technology is not yet mature”

The reality is: In the early days of the energy transition, solar panels and wind turbines were expensive, as is typical for any technology in its early stages of development. However, the performance of these systems has since skyrocketed, while prices have plummeted. Worldwide, solar installations with a capacity of more than one gigawatt are being deployed every single day. Similar trends are observed in storage technologies.

 

Myth 4: “The production of renewable energy systems is environmentally harmful”

The reality is: Wind turbines, solar panels, and battery storage require raw materials, some of which, especially rare metals, have been extracted under questionable conditions in the past. However, the industry is evolving. For example, lithium primarily comes from conventional mining in Australia, not predominantly from fragile ecosystems in Bolivia, as often claimed. In the future, it is also expected to be extracted in Germany, as a byproduct of geothermal drilling. While steel is endlessly recyclable, coal-fired power plants and internal combustion engines continually consume new raw materials. Oil extraction, in particular, leaves a trail of devastation around the globe.

 

Myth 5: “Renewable energies are inefficient and unstable”

The reality is: When wind and solar parks generate more energy than the power grid can transport, they are often curtailed, and operators are compensated. However, grids are being expanded, and concurrently, energy, heat, and hydrogen storage are being developed, leading to increasingly efficient utilization of energy.

 

Conclusion: Why companies should transition to renewable energies

“A company without a climate strategy has no strategy,” say business consultants. For those seeking long-term success, transitioning away from fossil fuels is unavoidable. Renewables provide the foundation for this shift: they generate clean electricity and reduce dependence on energy imports from potentially unreliable countries. Especially when combined with storage solutions, renewables become a competitive advantage for businesses.

 

Are you interested in ENERGYNEST, or have any questions regarding our thermal energy storage solutions or our applications for your specific industry?

 

Don’t hesitate to drop us a line.

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