Renewable energy has dramatically advanced in the US in recent years, progressing against the established energy base because of technological advances, the easy accessibility of raw materials, and government mandates and financial incentives. Not only are solar panels affordable and profitable for many home owners, but conditions are right to build solar farms for large-scale electricity generation. And there are many news stories about wind farms and plans to build massive off-shore wind farms. Many states have ambitious, yet achievable goals for a certain percentage of power coming from renewables. But the “elephant in the room” is that most renewable energy sources are intermittent and, therefore, limiting in terms of reliable integrating into a utility grid, such as at night or cloudy days or when the wind is not blowing. When conditions are “right”, these sources can produce a large amount of power, but when not, they produce little or none. It is hard to manage an electrical grid for a city or community this way.
The answer is to be able to store large quantities of excess power production above the demand of the moment, to be utilized during periods when power cannot be produced. Heavy research into larger and better utility-sized batteries or storage systems is proceeding. Whatever the form of such storage will become economical and prevalent, there will likely be land use, permitting and environmental issues to contend with.
Energy storage technologies do exist. Pumping water to higher ground at night to be used to generate electricity during peak demand is used. The main research these days is on lithium ion-based battery systems, which many believe offer the prerequisites for a viable utility-based system, such as reliability, fast response times, ease to implement, and large scale for residential and commercial applications.
In anticipation of the growth of utility-scale battery storage projects, several states have passed rules with goals for certain gigawatt storage capabilities state- or community-wide (CA, OR, WA, MA). However, to achieve this, it is likely that significant land must be available to install and operate such systems and infrastructure and operations be present, as well, to transmit the stored power into the grid for rapid transmittance during peak demand. This may result in critical issues that must be addressed, such as land use, noise, truck traffic, storage and transportation of potentially hazardous materials, permitting, and environmental. It is likely that such energy storage projects would be placed where power is needed in or near urban areas where space is tighter and more people reside or work. States and localities with old infrastructure or in greatest need of reliable power during peak periods would be warned to anticipate and address such issues sooner rather than later, before systems are potentially chosen and designed.
CCES has the experts to help your company become both more energy efficient and to implement renewable power to maximize financial benefits and promote flexibility with a minimum of disruption for your employees. Join the wave of a more efficient and cleaner energy future and maximize the benefits. Contact us today at 914-584-6720 or at karell@CCESworld.com.