What happens when the wind doesn’t blow and the sun doesn’t shine? This is probably the most frequently asked question about clean energy—is it reliable?
The answer is a resounding yes. The U.S. already has enough wind and utility-scale solar capacity to power 50 million American homes, and that number is growing fast. States like Iowa and Kansas already rely on clean energy to generate over 40 percent of their electricity, and clean energy has answered the call during extreme weather events when conventional power plants have failed due to factors like flooding, equipment failures, and frozen fuel.
There are several reasons why we can count on clean energy. The experts who manage our electric grid have been balancing electricity supply and demand for over a century. Because changes in wind and solar output are gradual and predictable, grid operators have ample time to adjust when wind and solar production goes up or down. Clean energy’s large geographic footprint also plays an important role—if the wind dies down or the sun hides behind a cloud in one area, chances are it’s blustery and bright elsewhere on the system. Advances in energy storage technology are allowing grid operators to save excess wind and solar production for later as well. Crucially, investments in new and upgraded transmission lines make the entire system more reliable and affordable.
All of this and more is explained in ACP’s new video on clean energy reliability:
The next time someone tells you the country can’t count on clean energy, share this video with them. The reality is wind and solar are reliable, and we power more of our homes and businesses with them every day.