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21.11.2017

No gas needed: Wind and solar can replace nuclear, and the public doesn't mind if it comes from our neighbours

A wind power plant in the municipality of Entlebuch.
A wind power plant in the municipality of Entlebuch.

Researchers of the NRP 70 project “Trade-offs in switching to renewable electricity” presented at the workshop “Risks of low-carbon transition in Poland” their findings from two studies.

​Researchers of the NRP 70 project “Trade-offs in switching to renewable electricity” presented at the workshop “Risks of low-carbon transition in Poland” their findings from two studies: The first study, based on a model of Swiss power supply with an hourly resolution for multiple years, was that switching to all renewable electricity in Switzerland would not lead to electricity shortages and cost the same overall as electricity from natural gas. Moreover, while hydropower compensates for the weather-dependent variability in wind output, wind compensates for the seasonal variability in hydropower output. The second study, a survey among Swiss citizens (n=1186), showed that the public strongly prefers solar and wind over gas, and is not opposed to importing wind and solar electricity from nearby countries. However, the Swiss public would prefer if foreign-based power plants were owned and operated by Swiss companies.

These findings were translated to the Polish electricity sector that still generates 88% of electricity from coal. The growing influx of renewable electricity, from the Baltic or from EU neighbours, threatens the business model of base load power like coal and nuclear plants. Regardless of Polish policies, this will lead to structural changes and cause economic and political strain in the coal mining regions in southern Poland.

The workshop was organised by the Institute for Structural Research (IBS) in Warsaw as part of the EU Horizon 2020 TRANSrisk project.

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