Energy Storage Could Be Required for Future Renewable Energy Projects

Energy storage technology might be moving from a nice-to-have addition to solar and wind installations to a component that’s necessary for project approval, if developments in California are any indication.

Solar developer BrightSource Energy and its utility partner Southern California Edison (SCE) may face rejection for two of five proposed power purchase agreements because they are too expensive and don’t include a plan to store the power, reports GigaOM.

The California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) sites energy storage in its recommendation for a "no" vote for BrightSource’s planned Rio Mesa project, but three other projects that have  energy storage are likely to get the greenlight when they are voted on this month.

"These projects incorporate molten salt storage capacity which will allow SCE to optimize generation from these facilities based on changing system requirements. This unique attribute decreases renewable integration risk and provides more value for ratepayers," says CPUC staff in its recommendations report

The intermittent nature of solar and wind is challenging, because it means these projects can’t send electricity to the grid as consistently or reliably as fossil-fuel or nuclear sources. Energy storage technology levels the playing field by helping generators store power so that demand can be better balanced.

BrightSource is no stranger to the potential of energy storage: its deal with SCE to add SolarPLUS energy storage technology to its project in the Mohave Desert is described as the "largest solar storage deal in the world." It will help the company forego building a 200 megawatt (MW) plant at that site. 

China’s BYD Company built the world’s largest battery energy storage for a utility scale combined wind and solar project in China’s Zhangbei, Hebei Province. The $500 million battery bank (the size of football field) provides 36 megawatt-hours of storage for the associated 140 MW project. 

The Department of Energy (DOE) plans to invest $120 million in energy storage technology for renewable energy and sustainable transportation starting with $20 million this year.

For the complete GigaOm story about this topic:

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Comments on “Energy Storage Could Be Required for Future Renewable Energy Projects”

  1. Katherine Hamilton

    As Policy Director for the Electricity Storage Association, I should be overjoyed to hear that CA is considering requiring energy storage with renewables, but the reality is that energy storage should be treated as a grid resource rather than limited by project. Energy storage has far more uses than simply backstopping renewables–ramping, parking capacity, grid stabilization, frequency regulation and response, arbitrage, avoided emissions–and should be valued as part of the entire system, not just of benefit to one project.

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  2. pabloya

    You are absolutely right. However, if you do slap this on the solar and/or wind projects you will never have the same problem as they have in China where solar/wind farms are abandon because they lack of Energy storage capability. Don’t forget that solar/wind generation without storage capability requires equal amount of fossil few generating capability for backup which is not what our mightly President had in mind when he put so much taxpayers money on the line. jmho.

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