Analysis: energy storage in California


With increased adoption of renewable energy sources the path for utilities to meet carbon emission reduction targets as well as ensure grid reliabilities, the adoption has not been simple.

It is not only the financial challenges which limited the growth of the sector but lack of adequate technologies to ensure generated energy is not lost to wastage but stored for later use when needed, reported PV Magazine.

As measures such as energy efficiency and demand response have not been adequate to help utilities meet the rising power demand during peak periods, energy storage has been identified as one of the main technologies which can be used to ensure grid reliability during peak periods. [California power utility tops budget for DR projects]

Josh Gerber, manager of advanced technology integration at SDG&E, commented: “To do renewables we’ve got to have storage because solar is having its peak output at 1 p.m. and our peak demands for electricity don’t happen until 8 p.m. We need a way to time-shift that generation to when our customers need it.”

Energy storage market drivers

The identification of energy storage as a solution has pushed utilities in the US to increase their storage systems to be able to integrate more renewable energy into the grid.

In addition, an increase in investments towards projects focusing on research and development of energy storage innovation is leading to positive trends within the landscape.

The US has managed to increase its energy storage by 126% ahead the first quarter of the year.

In total, the country has set a target to reach 287MW of energy storage in 2016.

State energy storage targets

In California, the Public Utilities Commission together with the state’s utilities are rallying towards increasing their portfolio to improve grid reliability as well as support adoption of EVs.

To continue leading other US states in adoption of EVs, while at the same time ensuring its grid network is stable, California needs to incorporate into grid network more renewable energy storage, a development which can be paved way by increase in energy storage systems.

Moreover, the closure of the Aliso Canyon natural gas plant has forced a rapid deployment of energy storage systems for the state to meet its power demand and avoid power outages especially during peak periods, states The San Diego Union Tribune.

The closure of the San Onofre Nuclear energy generation plant operated by Southern California Edison (SCE) has pushed the utility to resort to energy storage .

SCE partnered with multiple energy storage companies in a bid to accelerate the development of storage systems.

Colin Cushnie, vice president of energy procurement and management at SCE, told the Union-Tribune that the utility plans on adding 40MW of energy storage by the close of 2016, bringing its total to 67MW.

SCE selected an Advanced Microgrid Solutions (AMS) to develop a 40MW storage system to store solar energy. The project is designed to avoid power outages in southern California including Santa Ana, Irvine and Tustin cities.

According to the PV Magazine, in addition to the 40MW system, AMS has five contracts with the SCE to supply around 120 MW of customer-sited storage projects across California.

Susan Kennedy, CEO of AMS, said: “Reducing demand on the grid instead of adding new peaker plants is the fastest way to reduce greenhouse gas emissions while improving reliability for customers.”

However, it seems AMS’ energy storage systems won’t be enough to ensure SCE meets its power demand in southern California.

SCE engaged into a contract with Convergent Energy+Power to develop a 35MW/140MWh system in the same area.

SCE also selected Powin Energy to develop a remotely monitored 2MW battery storage system to ensure grid reliability by lining up with rising power demand at the Irvine Business District complex due to a rise in business activities at the complex. [California Uni secures funding for smart energy research].

The system will comprise 2,500 Lion batteries and will be able to supply the grid with power for four continuous hours.

In early August, AES Energy Storage signed two energy storage contracts with US power utility SDG&E to help the utility firm ensure grid reliability in San Diego.

The storage systems will store energy up to 37.5MW, and feed this power to the grid for four continuous hours and are expected to be complete by January, 2017.

The system comprise Samsung SDI batteries and power conversion technologies developed by Parker Hannifin.


Image credit: