Energy storage solution – a big boost for renewable energy

Energy storage systems signal arrival of ‘baseload’ renewables REneweconomy, By Giles Parkinson  21 November 2012 It has been widely thought that the arrival of cost-competitive rooftop solar PV systems would be the biggest game changer in the electricity market. But it may be that the emergence of affordable energy storage systems will have an even more profound impact.

There are predictions that the energy storage market is going to boom. One survey suggested that $30 billion will be spent on energy storage in the next decade in Australia alone. In the US, where $1 trillion is expected to be spent on electricity network infrastructure in the next 10 years, at least one fifth of that – or $200 billion – will be spent on energy storage.

The big question is who is going to benefit most from that investment – the customer, or the utility that delivers or sells the electricity. Or maybe even both. Most people are still trying to figure that out.

There is little doubt that there is huge interest, and likely huge
demand, for the product. Given that the arrival of solar PV has
enabled homeowners and small businesses to produce their own energy,
it is only natural that they would want to store it.

An analysis by Energeia this year said that as a result of cost
reductions in the technology, it predicted there would be 421,000
residential energy storage systems in Australian homes by 2021 –
nearly half the number that currently have solar on their rooftops.
The new pricing mechanisms that are being introduced into Australia –
high rates for peak consumption and low rates for overnight – make it
particularly attractive to have both solar, which can draw down cheap
energy from the sun during the day, and energy storage – which can
store excess energy and draw from the grid at low overnight rates. It
effectively doubles the attraction…..
“People will put these systems into their home – and will be put on a
contract where there is a heavy penalty to draw on power at peak
times. And the utilities will have the right to pull power back into
the grid when needed. Ultimately though, it is the consumer who will
control the energy over the house.”

Turner says it does offer the opportunity to go off grid as well. This
is particularly attractive to those dreaming of homes on rural blocks
who want to look after their own energy systems. “We are going to see
a trend toward modern off-grid living,” he says. His company has
received 200 inquiries already for off-grid housing developments. And
mining camps are also interested.

And how will the system be integrated with electric cars, and the
ability of those batteries to also provide storage? Turner sent us
this emailed response:

Q. Do you empty the fuel from your car into your generator at home?

A. No. Then most likely you won’t flatten your car to power your home.

He says the Zen Freedom PowerBank will be provisioned in the future
for DC to DC fast charging to draw and store off-peak grid power or
solar power to charge EVs quickly whenever it’s required.
Above:  a graphic display of what Turner sees as the problem for
electricity grids, and the solution that energy storage systems offer.
http://reneweconomy.com.au/2012/energy-storage-systems-signal-arrival-of-baseload-renewables-51854

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