In "3 Ways Renewable Energy Can Grow in a 21st Century Grid," Lovins along with RMI's Mark Dyson and James Mandel, say that some analysis doesn't take into account the potential for a changed power system.
"Assuming a static grid and unchanging market mechanisms can be used to make any innovation look bad," they note.
They offer three points that minimize the supposed problems.
First, supply is changing, as more flexible gas generation replaces older and less flexible coal and nuclear plants.
Second, demand is increasingly flexible too, thanks to demand response and time-varying rates. As wind and solar create periods of low-cost power, consumers and their automated devices will switch their consumption in response, changing the daily load shape. This Power Markets paper describes the host of flexibility options.
Third, storage technologies and prices are improving, allowing wind and solar to be shifted to meet higher value time periods. RMI wisely points out, though, that battery storage is "not necessarily ... competitive with the many other ways to achieve grid flexibility," a point I've made repeatedly and that Amory makes in this video.
Lastly, they give a shout out to Power Markets, linking to our previous blog post:
"But even if renewables do face adoption limits in current markets, there is no reason we have to keep these markets the way they are. Wholesale power markets are largely a product of historical coincidence, formed out of the paradigms of the last century in which thermal power plants competed only with each other."
Of course changing the market, especially in a way that benefits new entrants and increases the threat to incumbents, is not a simple task. Germany's commitment to competitive markets and to the Energiewende gave them the spine to implement their recent reforms.