New Technologies Give Renewables a Boost

Date: 
Tuesday, August 6, 2013

As renewable energy costs come down and technologies like solar and wind become a larger part of our energy supply, being able to match those supplies with demand, in real time, becomes increasingly important. One of the biggest challenges of using power from renewable energy sources like solar and wind is that they are “intermittent” – that is, the sun doesn’t always shine, and the wind doesn’t always blow, and humans cannot control either. 

Batteries, pumped hydro, and compressed gas are types of energy storage that address the issue of intermittent supply; each method converts renewable energy into a storable form of energy to be used at a later time, for example, when the wind stops blowing, or the sun goes down, or half the state turns on their air conditioning all at once.

Advancements in energy storage technologies are making it possible for property owners and utilities to rely more heavily on renewable sources, while also helping stabilize the grid, making sure electricity supply matches demand (no brown outs!), and reducing voltage and frequency fluctuations that can impact power quality and reliability.

As the world population, prosperity, and energy demand increase, and as renewable energy becomes more mainstream, advancements in energy storage are becoming an essential component to the evolution of the world’s power systems.

Next month, professionals in energy storage are convening in San Jose for the Energy Storage North America Conference to explore energy storage solutions that address today’s grid challenges. California Public Utilities Commissioner Carla Peterman will deliver the keynote talk at Energy Storage North America. Earlier this month, Peterman issued a ruling proposing that California’s investor-owned utilities procure 1.3 gigawatts of energy storage by 2020. This ruling was a call for utilities to make grid-scale energy storage a critical part of the state’s electrical power system.

Check out the Energy Storage North America blog for the latest news about the conference.