While one could argue that most electric utilities in America have not been the quickest to adopt renewable energy sources, things are starting to change.
In an effort to help meet renewable energy generation mandates, many states are developing and testing energy storage technologies. This involves large lithium-ion battery systems.
A recent story, from climatecentral.org, explains how California continues to be the leader in green energy development. In response to the state’s mandate that its utilities must have at least 1,325 MW of renewable energy storage online by 2024, Edison Electric have invested $50 million in a battery storage project. This is enough stored power for 1 million homes. Another major goal of the state is to provide half of its energy needs from renewable sources by 2030.
Another story involves a utility in Washington state. The seattletimes.com just reported that the Snohomish County Public Utility District recently installed a one Megawatt battery system that can provide 400 homes power for one hour. While this may not seem like much, it is a vital step in the right direction. They know that prices and overall effectiveness of battery storage technologies will improve over time. It is also noteworthy to mention that much of western Washington is fortunate enough to get most of its energy from clean hydropower.
Utilities realize that as solar and wind projects continue to be implemented, there will eventually be more and more need for storage solutions. There simply may not be enough consumer energy demand at any given time. This extra power must be stored to help make large renewable energy projects more economically justified.
By their basic nature, solar and wind are intermittent sources of power. Batteries are absolutely necessary if we are to eventually switch to a 100% renewable energy society. The good news is that costs are coming down and battery efficiency technologies are improving.
Battery technologies are not only just applicable to public utilities, of course. A reasonable prediction for the near future involves lithium-ion batteries backing up solar power at every scale – residential, commercial, and utility. We truly are witnessing the beginning of the democratization of power – everyone will eventually be able to provide and store their power needs.