Energy storage batteries face biggest test in California
.From the perspective of both renewable-energy advocates and electric utilities, grid-scale energy storage offers many potential benefits.
By storing energy in battery packs for later use, energy storage can make intermittent renewable sources like solar and wind into more reliable forms of power.
It also helps utilities “balance” the grid by absorbing excess energy during periods of low demand, and releasing it during periods of peak demand.
Yet energy storage has not been tested on a large scale by U.S. utilities.
Until now, that is.
California now has three completed energy-storage sites, constituting the biggest test yet for the technology, notes The New York Times (subscription required).
The state passed an energy-storage mandate, but development did not pick up until a massive 2015 gas leak in Aliso Canyon, a large-scale environmental disaster that also cut off fuel to local power plants.
The leak started at a Southern California Gas Co. storage facility in October 2015, and lasted several months.
In that time, it released greenhouse-gas emissions equivalent to the annual emissions of 1.7 million cars.
Infrastructure company AES built an energy-storage array for utility San Diego Gas & Electric (SDG&E) in Escondido, California, about 30 miles from San Diego.
Billed as the largest installation of its kind in the world, it uses lithium-ion batteries from Samsung, and reportedly has enough capacity to power about 20,000 homes for four hours.
AES is also installing a smaller energy-storage array for SDG&E in El Cajon, which is also near San Diego.