Seasonal fluctuations

The fluctuations of supply and demand that have the longest timescale are seasonal. The most important fluctuation is that of building-heating, which goes up every winter. Current UK natural gas demand varies throughout the year, from a typical average of 36 kWh/d per person in July and August to an average of 72 kWh/d per person in December to February, with extremes of 30-80 kWh/d/p (figure 26.16).

Some renewables also have yearly fluctuations - solar power is stronger in summer and wind power is weaker.

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Figure 26.16. Gas demand (lower graph) and temperature (upper graph) in Britain during 2007.

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Figure 26.16. Gas demand (lower graph) and temperature (upper graph) in Britain during 2007.

How to ride through these very-long-timescale fluctuations? Electric vehicles and pumped storage are not going to help store the sort of quantities required. A useful technology will surely be long-term thermal storage. A big rock or a big vat of water can store a winter's worth of heat for a building - Chapter E discusses this idea in more detail. In the Netherlands, summer heat from roads is stored in aquifers until the winter; and delivered to buildings via heat pumps [2wmuw7].

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