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There is a basic problem with that argument, tough - which is that the only way to reduce the carbon emissions of the wider economy is to encourage electrification of every aspect of it that can be electrified, and high electricity prices would make that near impossible, as people would simply continue to use fossil fuels instead of electrons. So what we need is a situation where electricity is  

A: Cheap and abundant. - Ideally, cheaper than it is now! Remember, using resistance heaters with clean power is better than having a gas furnace, despite being an insanely wasteful use of electricity, and not everyone can use heat pumps.  
B: carbon free and clean.
C: Demand and supply curves match up somehow without wrecking points A. or B - This means no gas fired peakers, and it means that any energy storage systems you include must cost less than your generating scheme. If you mean to solve it via overbuild and just wasting the surplus power, again, this cost needs counting.

This is a very tall order. In my judgement, it is, in fact, not possible to get there with renewables. A europe wide grid linking wind would still have large variations in output not linked in any way with demand swings.
It might be possible with nuclear and pumped storage, since the maximum storage capacity needed is what you need to cover day/night variation, but this is still going to add some to those costs listed. The ideal solution would, naturally, for the extra electricity consumed in the process of
"Electrify those bits of our economy not currently on the grid" were to fall overwhelmingly during the night, so that we end up with a much, much flatter demand curve. - This, however, would require the wide adoption of, oh, electric cars that do not need recharging during the day in normal use. (if people charge their cars at night + while they are at work, that doesnt help. the battery really needs to last all day in normal use. )

by Thomas on Thu Jul 8th, 2010 at 07:40:55 AM EST
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