tirsdag 2. mars 2010

New Calif. bill would mandate grid storage for peak periods

A new bill pitched in the California Assembly would mandate that 2.25 percent of the power used during peak hours be stored and essentially on-tap by 2014. By 2020, utilities would be required to store 5 percent of their peak loads. This may not sound like much, but the change could mean massive investment in energy storage systems and innovation.
The ability to use stored energy during peak hours is becoming increasingly important as people consume more and more energy. If nothing changes, the introduction of electric vehicles could strain grids and cause widespread outages. There is simply not enough supply to keep up with demand. For this reason, energy needs to be stored during off-peak hours, in order to take the edge off during those times of high consumption.
But that’s not the only advantage to storing more energy. Advanced storage solutions would also make renewable sources of energy, like wind farms and solar arrays, more useful and realistic. As is, these sources are intermittent and unreliable. If the electricity they generate can be stored, however, they will be much more consistent, and could feasibly begin to replace fossil fuels.
The new bill, AB2514, was introduced by California Attorney General Jerry Brown and Assemblywoman Nancy Skinner. If passed, it will reinforce the golden state’s role as the U.S. leader in environmental regulation. it is already home to some of the most promising solar, wind and energy efficiency startups in the country. But legislation mandating grid storage could make it an even more attractive place for these type of young enterprises.
Companies like EnerVault and Prudent Energy, makers of large, potentially grid-scale batteries, could spearhead another Gold Rush in California. Both companies have recently raised millions of dollars to build up their manufacturing operations. And both use a “flow battery” design to store large amounts of power more cheaply than their lithium-ion competitors. Undoubtedly, both startups would love to see the new bill and others like it approved in the near term.
Right now, peak demand for the state of California is pegged at 29,000 megawatts by grid operator California ISO. That means that the state will need to store 1,450 megawatts to comply with the goals outlined in the new legislation. In short, its passage would bring several hundred million dollars of grid-scale storage on line over the next decade. If similar bills are passed in other states, grid storage could easily become a billion dollar industry by 2020.
Companies: EnerVault, Prudent Energy

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