Letter | Published:

Renewable energy sources and storage

Naturevolume 272pages518521 (1978) | Download Citation



A FEATURE of wind, wave and solar energy sources is the unpredictable variability of the strength of the source due to the vagaries of the climate. There are two main ways of exploiting these sources. In the first a back-up supply is provided. Thus, with solar water heating, it is customary to rely on electrical immersion heaters or boilers burning gas, oil or solid fuel to supplement the solar energy input during the winter months and at other times when the insolation level is low. It is generally accepted that large wind generators would feed their electrical output into the national grid. On windy days the output would reduce the amount of electricity generated in conventional power stations, thereby saving fuel. The installation of a wind or solar power plant by itself, however, will save little, if any, conventional generating capacity, as there can be no guarantee of significant wind or solar generation at times of peak demand. The second way of exploiting renewable energy sources is to couple them with some form of storage. If the storage capacity is sufficient there is a guaranteed output from the renewable energy source plus storage system at the times when it is required. Ryle1 has suggested that a form of storage is available in connection with wind power. We analyse here the validity of this claim.

Access optionsAccess options

Rent or Buy article

Get time limited or full article access on ReadCube.


All prices are NET prices.


  1. 1

    Ryle, M. Nature 267, 111–117 (1977).

Download references

Author information


  1. Planning Department, CEGB, Laud House, Newgate Street, London, EC1, UK

    • , V. G. NEWMAN
    •  & J. K. WRIGHT


  1. Search for R. J. LEICESTER in:

  2. Search for V. G. NEWMAN in:

  3. Search for J. K. WRIGHT in:

About this article

Publication history



Issue Date



Further reading


By submitting a comment you agree to abide by our Terms and Community Guidelines. If you find something abusive or that does not comply with our terms or guidelines please flag it as inappropriate.