L’énergie des roches chaudes

CANBERRA – Posez la question des énergies renouvelables à n’importe quel ingénieur de réseaux électriques et il est probable qu’il vous dira qu’elles ne fournissent pas l’énergie de charge de base. En d’autres termes, on ne peut pas compter sur les énergies renouvelables pour alimenter les réseaux 24 heures par jour, sept jours par semaine : le vent ne fait pas toujours tourner les éoliennes, le soleil ne brille pas la nuit sur les panneaux des centrales solaires et même l’énergie hydroélectrique peut faire défaut s’il ne pleut pas assez.

La nature imprévisible inhérente aux principales énergies renouvelables présente de sérieuses difficultés pour les planificateurs des systèmes électriques. Elle limite le nombre des sources d’énergie qui peuvent être utilement connectées aux réseaux électriques mondiaux. Les consommateurs s’attendent après tout à pouvoir disposer de courant électrique à tout moment.

La solution technique consiste à faire en sorte qu’une énergie de charge de base fiable soit la principale composante des différentes sources de production d’électricité, suppléée par des « centrales de pointe » intégrées aux réseaux quand nécessaire. Dans certains pays, cette capacité de point repose sur l’énergie hydroélectrique, mais elle est assurée la plupart du temps par les combustibles fossiles, tels que gaz, diesel et fioul.

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