Archive for the ‘renewables’ Tag

Energy Storage – Why is it needed?

Energy Storage – why?
California is in the process of sending “energy storage” legislation to the governor for signature. What exactly is “energy storage”, why do we need it? Discussing whether or not efficient energy storage can be legislated is a topic for another day.
Storage for the 21st Century.
ECCO International has been closely following the issues surrounding energy storage. We have led the development of inclusion of pumped storage hydro resources in ISO’s optimization algorithms. ECCO stands in the forefront of helping the energy industry utilize current and future energy storage technologies moving forward.
What is energy storage and why do we need it?
During the early days of nuclear power development there was envisioned a time when there would be many nuclear plants. Nuclear, as they had been constructed in the US, were reasonably inflexible in-terms of moderating their energy output with demand. What the industry saw then was a need to “store” energy during low usage periods when costs would be very low for use during peak usage periods when costs would be much higher. This plan would help manage the inflexibility of the nuclear “fleet. As a result pumped storage hydro facilities were constructed.
Briefly, pumped storage facilities have two reservoirs, an upper and lower. During light load periods the pumped storage facilities would “pump the water up to the upper reservoir, consuming the cheaper electricity. Then during peak conditions they would “run” the water back down into the lower reservoir when costs were high.
Now with the need to find alternative energy sources the focus is now on energy sources such as wind and solar. While these energy resources have many positive characteristics, they are subject to “natural” variations in climatic and “time-based” conditions. They are commonly called intermittent resources. For example, when the sun doesn’t shine and the wind doesn’t blow the output from these facilities is low to zero. The problem is how we manage these variations along with our need for a reliable and stable energy supply.
The current answer is that we try to manage these variations using conventional means. For example, bringing on high cost combustion turbines when there are shortfalls or committing more conventional resources, “just in case” to prevent service disruptions. Both of these options are costly to consumers and not optimal, thus the need to move toward technological development of new energy storage capabilities is crucial and imminent. The better answer is to add more storage capacity to the system to capture the excess output of intermittent resources for use when these systems are not producing at their peak capacity.
Moving forward…
ECCO International has been studying this issue and is now helping our clients consider new and innovative ways to optimize the existing storage technology along with newer or improved technologies such as compressed air and “battery” storage. Additionally, we focus on the demand side of the equation by developing and implementing optimal methodologies for incorporating Demand Response Resources into the wholesale markets in order to offer a complete and optimal solution to this problem.

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