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Renewable Energy's Achilles' Heel Is Storage

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pvalenta
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Iron
Re: Shortage of storage
pvalenta   8/31/2011 11:37:21 AM
I agree that storage is vital piece of a viable renewable energy strategy.  Air-conditioning has helped to create demand issues and it can be part of the solution as well.

In 2006 Buildings used over 70% of electricity produced so designs and changes to their consumption can impact the grid dramatically.  High Performance Buildings designs, both new and retrofit, using hybrid cooling systems that include thermal energy storage can help provide the grid with energy storage.  Buildings with energy storage can act as virtual generators when renewable energy is not available because of weather related issues.  Additionally, these storage systems can provide a load for night time wind that is currently wasted because of low night time loads.  Thermal energy storage in buildings can help the intermittant aspect of renewable energy while creating a load for it as well making the economics of renewable energy more viable.

Thermal energy storage systems are affordable and can be applied to a wide range of facilites including K-12 Schools, Community Colleges, Universities, Hospitals, and Offices.  Product improvements, better design tools, and improved practices have made thermal energy storage systems both affordable and reliable providing cost savings for users, storage for the grid, and lower demand during summer peaks for the utility.

Successful implementors of thermal energy storage include Stanford University, the University of Arizona, SAP US headquarters in PA, Bank of America in NY, as well as Sarasota and Hillsborough County Schools in Florida to name a few.

Thermal energy storage need to be discussed more at state and federal levels to make sure policymakers understand the how thermal energy storage can help. Bills like California’s recently passed AB 2514 represent a good start at the state level. AB 2514 calls on the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) to open a proceeding to establish a common framework for valuing the costs and benefits associated with storage, to help ensure that regulated utilities consider storage alongside other options for meeting reliability needs. In doing so, the bill it will bring various stakeholders together and elevate storage into the daily discussions about how we serve future energy needs. What role will storage play, at the lowest possible cost and in an environmentally responsible manner?

On the Federal level, bills like last year’s STORAGE Act can help extend tax credits, financial incentives and loan guarantees to energy storage projects, while the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, the North American Electric Reliability Corporation, and many state PUCs are taking steps to understand how to value storage in a regulatory sense, and to measure its cost-effectiveness. 

So, please, don't forget to mention thermal energy storage as part of the storage solution reqired for implementation of renewable energy.

 

 

Tim
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Platinum
Re: Shortage of storage
Tim   8/31/2011 12:10:09 PM
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Increases in the use of geothermal energy particularly in larger buildings does have high potential to reduce electricity need for local communities.  Some municipalities have seen this and are starting to mandate the use of geothermal technology on new construction over certain square footage. 

Jack Rupert, PE
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Platinum
Re: Shortage of storage
Jack Rupert, PE   8/31/2011 12:20:02 PM
It seems that the major driving force of the renewables is their so-call environmentally friendly advantage.  At least, that is what those driving the subsidies to those markets are saying.  However, I wonder what the net impact is when the entire systems is looked at.  How much space is required for the farms or the hydro storage? What happens when the batteries die?  What sort of infrastructure is necessary, say, for a factory to have its own battery house?  Even more important, at the end of the day what is cost per KWH?

Jack Rupert, PE
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Platinum
Re: Residential Storage
Jack Rupert, PE   8/31/2011 12:28:24 PM
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Ivan, the idea of temporary storage at the residential location has some appeal, especially since more and more of us are getting emergency generators (either portable gasoline models or built in natural gas).  The question becomes, what size system would be needed at an average size house to meet the minium requirements for service continuation (i.e., a calm day for a wind power system) vs. longer term emergency backup for a couple days when a storm takes out power.

I do remember seeing an article about those mini reactors a while ago.  I think the concern with them, at least when I saw it was security.  From a purely technical point of view, I did like that solution.

pvalenta
User Rank
Iron
Re: Shortage of storage
pvalenta   8/31/2011 12:31:44 PM
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Thermal Energy Storage (TES) in typical applications makes up about 30% of a hybrid cooling system.  The amount amount of space required for that is relative equivalent of the amount the water heater requires in the average 2,000 sq. ft. home.  Partial ice storage systems require 1/4 of 1% of the conditioned space.  Water thermal energy storage requires more space.

Some ice storage systems are 99% reuseable or recyleable making them a very sustainable choice.  Ice energy storage systems typically will last over 30 years and not degrade in performance like batteries making them an ideal choice to store energy and lower connected load.

Of course all forms of energy storage will be needed to make renewable energy goals possible and viable.  Utilities like to build and manage large projects so TES often is overlooked when it is a viable and necessary part of the solution.

Renewable energy will need the smart grid.  The smart grid will need smart buildings.  Smart buildings will need energy storage operate efficiently and affordable.

pvalenta
User Rank
Iron
Re: Shortage of storage
pvalenta   8/31/2011 12:35:59 PM
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Thermal Energy Storage (TES), ice for example, combined with central geothermal systems offer storage and efficiency.  Ice storage with geothermal heat pumps can provide a very efficient flexible cooling system for smart buildings.  Here is a great example at this link.  http://www.blattnerenergy.com/about_responsibility_green.php

John Casey
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Iron
Re: Shortage of storage
John Casey   8/31/2011 2:48:56 PM
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If water electrolysis efficiency and hydrogen fuel cell technology could be improved, this would provide an ideal method of energy storage.

brett_cgb
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Iron
Re: Residential Storage
brett_cgb   8/31/2011 2:58:16 PM
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Consider a few years into the future. Electric cars have been on the road for a while, and their batteries no longer have the capacity they once did (probably at 60-80% of original capacity) - its time to replace the battery.

What to do with the old battery? Re-use it!

The battery is no longer usefull for traction (e-vehicles), but it would serve well as stationary energy storage for a home or very small business, even at half the original capacity. Attach an inverter/charger, and volia! Instant local storage.

 

Tim
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Platinum
Re: Residential Storage
Tim   8/31/2011 5:38:15 PM
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That is a great use of old technology. As Ev's become more popular, we will need to find somewhere for all of those batteries to go.

plasticmaster
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Silver
small 70Mw nuclear power plants
plasticmaster   8/31/2011 10:06:10 PM
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I've got a problem running away from a challenge (or problem, depending how you look at it) just because I experienced a failure. Einstein comes to mind...instead of walking away from the lightbulb experiment, he is quoted saying "... And why would I ever give up? I now know definitively over [###] ways that an electric light bulb will not work. Success is almost in my grasp."

The world needs clean, reliable ways to generate electricity. The United States is expected to need 300 gigawatts of new capacity – that’s 150 times the capacity of Hoover Dam – by 2030. Developing nations can only grow as fast as they can power their economies. Global demand for new electric capacity will outpace the U.S. by tenfold in the same period.

I think we need to embrace the great strides we've made in nuclear technology and figure out ways to conquer the down sides (i.e. where to put the waste OR recycle it by turning it into something else, weatherability, and what happens when it gets old).

Small Nuclear Power Plants

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