Energy Storage Testing Begins on a Massive Scale in California

Energy Storage Testing Begins in California

The fall of 2015, in California caused one of the worst recorded environmental disasters: a detrimental gas leak coupled with power grid knock off. The incident called for an immediate action. Instead of continuing with gas, energy regulators turned to a simpler technology- battery. All the utilities were cleared to make room for battery installations. Critics voice out their concerns on the associated risk and go to extent of calling the entire idea reckless.

Energy storage faces the most crucial test in California

The concept here is that batteries will store excess energy generated during the day which is also the time when the entire state is flooded with excess solar energy, and release the same when there is a peak in demand which coincides with twilight hours. These rechargeable batteries thus behave similarly to on-demand power plants. If the experiment is successful, rechargeable batteries can potentially replace power plants.

While there are studies being conducted on storage of surplus energy in batteries, California is the only state risking testing of this theory. These batteries are manufactured by Samsung and are designed to store sufficient energy to act like as back-up source during fuel shortage. On completion, the oversized lithium-ion batteries, similar to the ones used in smartphones, will serve the entire Southern California electricity grid.

Energy storage in Batteries and its implication on renewable energy

If the batteries function according to the theoretical plan, solar and wind energy generators can replace conventional power plants even when the weather is gloomy and calm.

Associated risk of storing energy in batteries

The concept of energy storage within batteries has immense potential. However, the challenges of implementation pose many challenges for researchers, engineers, entrepreneurs and policy makers. When other technologies gain complete understanding through intensive research, batteries, the simplest storage form, lags behind.

One of the main concerns is the risk of explosion or fire if the maintenance of the battery is poor, a problem which Samsung faced with Note 7 smartphones which resulted in calling back all the sold pieces. Also, funding is a serious limitation because in the face of failed experimentation, the scarcity of financial backing could halt the testing process. Extensive testing has failed to push the technology to spread utility because most electricity and gas utility services like Xcel do not find the technology cost effective. If these companies are involved in testing solar energy storage in batteries, they do so in a small scale.

Solar energy utilization has been the highest in California till 2011. The then governor Mr. Schwarzenegger stirred a boom in renewable energy through the bills he passed. But, the energy management system failed to bridge the demand supply imbalance.

This testing is hailed as the most crucial test of energy storage technology and is also the fundamental precursor for the future of clean-energy. The installation in the Escondido which is 30 miles north of San Diego, on completion will be the largest of its kind.

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