Energy storage has become the killer app for taking the energy grid to the next level. And with California's passage of a landmark energy storage bill, which sets targets for utility adoption of energy storage technologies, the next step has been taken to reduce our dependence on fossil fuel.
The bill was authored by Assembly member Nancy Skinner (D-Berkeley), strongly supported by California Attorney General, Edmund G. Brown Jr., and signed by Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger. The bill requires electric utilities to adopt energy storage technologies, making it easier to incorporate renewable energy sources into the state’s electric grid.
The bill recognizes that the amount of electricity that can be generated at any given time is a relatively fixed amount, but actual demand for electricity fluctuates throughout the day. Integrating energy storage technology will allow California’s electric distribution system to meet and accommodate the ups and downs of energy demand. Furthermore, increasing energy storage capacity would help promote intermittent energy sources like wind and solar power and contribute to an overall more reliable smart grid.
“Energy storage is an excellent solution for making renewable energy sources more economically viable,” says Mark MacCracken, CEO of CALMAC
and chair-elect, USGBC
. “Energy storage is critical as we move toward the use of renewable resources, and Energy Storage Bill AB 2514 is a step in the right direction for the future of our country’s energy needs. ... solving our energy problems is not as simple as just putting solar on roofs and wind turbines on mountians, since solar and wind cannot be counted on to be there when you need them. I hope other states follow California’s lead.”
CALMAC is a good example of how storage can impact energy needs. Its IceBank Energy Storage system employs thermal energy storage by making ice at night, when wind power is most abundant, and using it the next day to cool buildings. The IceBank tanks shift a building’s energy demand from on-peak to off-peak times, decreasing cooling costs by up to 40% and reducing both source energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions.