Energy Storage And Demand Response Propel California Forward On Earth Day
California may be at the vortex of Earth Day. Reducing greenhouse gas emissions is the state’s number one goal, which it’s working to achieve in a variety of ways, most notably by using more renewable energy. But to hit its green energy target, California will rely on new technologies like energy storage and demand response.
In an ideal world, energy storage devices would soak up electricity at night when the cost of power is cheaper and then release it during the day if the wind is not blowing or the sun is not shining. In the real world, the technology is used to keep the electrical grid balanced and to prevent changes in frequency that can cause the lights to flicker out and potentially prompt rolling blackouts. In other words, the batteries detect an imbalance and immediately respond.
California is trying to inspire investment in those tools that can inject electrons onto the grid: The California Public Utility Commission is requiring the utilities PG&E, San Diego Gas & Electric and Southern California Edison to collectively buy 1,325 megawatts of energy storage by 2020.
To that end, Sempra Energy’s San Diego Gas & Electric has just signed contracts for 83.5 megawatts from five storage projects that use lithium-ion batteries. If approved by the California Public Utilities Commission, the utility will own and operate two of the five facilities that will come online between 2019 and 2021. The utility is on target to procure 165 megawatts of energy storage by 2020.
“By building these projects, San Diego Gas & Electric will remain at the forefront of helping the state achieve its bold clean-energy and carbon-emission targets,” says Emily Shults, the company’s vice president for energy procurement.
Similarly, Edison International’s Southern California Edison has the Tehachapi Energy Storage Project. It is located on a wind farm about 100 miles north of Los Angeles — an undertaking that is part of the 2009 federal stimulus plan. The Tehachapi Energy Storage Project is projected to generate 8 megawatts for four full hours, which equates to 32 megawatt/hours. It also uses lithium-ion batteries, which are able to store and to discharge electricity at any time, although they have a limited duration.
California is looking to revamp its greenhouse gas emission goals and has proposed a 40% reduction from 1990 levels by 2030. It has several tools in its arsenal to try and achieve that objective, with the increased use of renewables being a key method; it now has a 50% green energy mandate by 2030.
“Our research shows considerable near-term potential for stationary energy storage,” McKinsey & Co. said in a report. “One reason for this is that costs are falling and could be $200 per kilowatt-hour in 2020, half today’s price, and $160 per kilowatt-hour or less in 2025.” Longer term and as the technology matures, it sees even greater business opportunities.