Even Utilities are starting to go green and that’s good for everyone.
According to a recent article in Green Building Advisor called Big Batteries, Not New Power Plants, since 2014 about 50% of new US utility scale electric generation capacity has been from renewable sources mostly from solar and wind power.
And because of the decreasing costs of lithium-ion batteries US utility company battery storage capacity has gone from under 200 megawatt hours in 2014 to over 700 megawatt hours in 2017.
OK so why is this important?
- Peak energy demand can be twice what the average energy demand is, but without a viable way to store energy, you need to build new power plants that can meet increasing peak demand and to replace old ones going off line. Both cost money and the cost is passed off to consumers.
- Solar, wind, wave, tidal and similar green renewable energy driven power plants are becoming cheaper to build than oil, gas, coal and especially nuclear power plants.
- Green energy eliminates the hard and direct costs of fuel for power plants as well as the indirect costs to the environment that the public always seems to end up paying for one way or the other.
- During low demand periods, green power plants can generate more energy that is needed and enough to meet peak demand…if power could be stored and used as needed.
- Solar power can generate power during the day but without a way to store it, solar power is of little use at night.
- Wind turbines generate electricity day and night but not everywhere in the country is there sufficient wind or wind blowing consistent enough to always meet demand.
- Because of the limits of current energy transmission technology and the way the US power grids are setup, electricity can’t be sent great distances, nor easily between one US power grid to others.
Because of these factors, battery technology or some other way of storing energy is key to having the US and the world achieve 100% clean green, renewable energy. Energy that does not pump greenhouse gases and other noxious pollutants into the atmosphere. And energy that will cost less to produce.
The thrust of the article is that with increased utility scale energy storage (aka batteries*), adding more clean renewable energy sources like solar and wind can now replace fossil fuel power plants for more and more and eventually all our energy needs.
The article mentions some major utility companies in California, Hawaii, Arizona, and Puerto Rico are looking into power storage options or some are applying for permission from regulators to add utility scale storage capacity. If that happens it will increase demand for batteries as well as solar, wind, wave, tidal and other green energy generation technology.
Increased demand generates greater investment in improving the technology and driving down costs. And that is even more great news.
*Battery technology, like the lithium-ion battery technology discussed in the article and is currently driving the market. But there is a good deal of research and development into other battery technology and also other energy storage technology.