Renewables and Storage: The perfect combination to meet energy demand

Fear of energy supply intermittency can be overcome by combining different sources of renewable energy.

“Combining renewable energy with storage is a great solution that customers need,” said Alfredo Solar, General Manager of Atlas Renewable Energy in Chile.

For Alfredo Solar, who has more than two decades of experience in the energy industry, this combination is even more relevant for mining customers, who consume significant amounts of energy. “They already have it internalized,” he said, regarding the mining industry. Chile is the world’s largest copper producer, accounting for 25% of the global supply. In 2022, mining represented 58% of Chile’s exports and 14% of its GDP, according to the Chilean Mining Council, a trade organization representing major mining companies operating in Chile. 

Intermittency Is Not a Risk

One of the concerns of customers is the intermittency of energy supply. “Renewable resources are not constantly available in nature,” said Solar. He gave examples like the wind blowing at certain times of the day, and clouds obscuring the sun. It’s the combination of these sources that supplies energy to the system. “Rather than intermittency, I would say that energy sources are variable and need to be compatible within a system with others that have different variations or those that, in some way, allow for flexible conditions,” Solar explained.

Customers do not perceive the intermittency of generation sources because it’s the generating companies that assemble a portfolio of energy sources according to their demand. The challenge for generating companies lies in supplying energy from variable sources. “These energy sources combine with each other, and in the end, they all work within a system,” Solar said.

Advancements in Storage Technologies

One way to address the variability of renewable generation is through storage. “If we have a surplus of solar energy during the day and can store it in large batteries to use it at night, I believe that’s one way to solve the problem,” Solar said.

The cost of batteries has been a hindrance to their development, but Solar noted that prices have been decreasing. “We are reaching a point where the combination of solar energy and batteries is becoming reasonably profitable as a more continuous supply for meeting demand,” he added.

Ivan Rudnick, Director of Systep Engineering and Designs, believes that economic barriers will decrease as investment costs lower, as mentioned in the article “The Complexity and Cost of Storing Energy” published in the November 2022 issue of Nueva Minería y Energía magazine.

Energy Portfolios

Atlas Renewable Energy collaborates with other companies to offer comprehensive solutions to ensure a stable energy supply. “Essentially, what we do is try to structure portfolios with different technologies and ensure that our portfolios provide us with reasonable energy generation to enter into an energy supply contract with a customer,” Solar said. Atlas aims to make the generation compatible with customer demand and economically viable.

The Desire for Clean Energy Consumption

Customers increasingly want to move away from fossil fuels and carbon emissions. “Renewable sources are the answer to that. They are entirely sustainable energy sources,” Solar said.

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