Around the world, countries are increasing their investments in renewable energy sources. They have to, in order to reduce the effects of global climate change.
But a new study says that the models we use to predict exactly how much energy renewables can give us might be a bit overly optimistic. They further warn that it could be dangerous to plan around these models.
The research, out of Imperial College London, looked at mathematical models for predicting how much of the demand for power can be met by renewable sources by the middle of the century, 2050. They take into account technological advances, increase in population and use of technology, and the increasing rate of renewable energy production.
But some of the more optimistic ones are flawed, the study found. They looked at one model predicting 100% renewable capability in the UK and found that without backup systems, that model would fail often enough to be deemed inoperable.
Even with some smaller back up systems installed, that particular model wouldn’t account for 9 per cent of Britain’s power needs.
The researchers say this is important because it means policies and decisions might end up based in fantasy and wishful thinking rather than actual realistic models.
In order to make truly informed decisions, model-makers have to be upfront about the limitations of their models. That way, maybe we actually have a chance at a sustainable renewable future, if not by 2020, then at least a little later.