As more companies begin to implement large-scale renewable energy projects into their facilities and the grid, questions concerning power storage have surfaced.
Unless it is used almost immediately, most electricity disappears shortly after it is generated, forcing grid operators to engage in a constant balancing act of supply and demand. And when the scales tip toward scarcity, electricity prices spike – a misfortune that occurs most often on hot days when we use a lot of air conditioning or when a storm causes infrastructure damage.
Fortunately, better batteries and other smart energy technologies have begun stepping up to the plate, offering a solution to the power storage predicament. Today, energy storage systems make up roughly 2% of U.S. generation capacity, and that number is expected to surge over the next decade.
Power with a plan
One success story is taking place in San Francisco. Powertree Services Inc., a private owner-operator of integrated solar photovoltaic generation, electric vehicle (EV) charging and grid interactive energy storage, and Panasonic Eco Solutions are working together to build 68 EV charging stations at multi-unit residential properties across the city.
To be as environmentally friendly and cost-efficient as possible, the charging stations will not only be solar powered, but – you guessed it – they'll incorporate battery storage.
When complete, the installations will provide high-power charging to vehicles, ancillary services to the utility to support the grid, solar power to tenants and supplemental power to surrounding buildings. Talk about a green solution.
By implementing multiple renewable energy components, Powertree's energy storage solution is providing a host of benefits for San Francisco residents:
- Stability. Unfortunately, renewable energy sources, like traditional electric power, can cause instability with fluctuations in the power they produce. Energy storage systems act as a stabilizer for intermittent renewable assets and will play a critical role in the low-carbon society of the future.
- Scalability. Comprising storage batteries and control units to manage charging and discharging, storage systems are suitable for a variety of applications. No matter what type of installation, there is a storage system available.
- A reliable resource. Power from the storage system can be used as a backup energy source in the event of a power outage. When an outage occurs, battery storage systems operate as a power supply to bridge the operation of critical systems until the power returns or a backup generator starts.
- A clean companion. By simply storing and recycling electricity, energy storage systems have no direct emissions. In addition, renewable energy storage lightens the load of fossil fuel generation, further reducing emissions.
- Savings. Energy storage systems help facilitate solar savings even further, lowering the overall cost of providing electricity and helping customers avoid premium pricing during peak demand.
- A forward-facing solution. Energy storage shifts energy consumption forward. With storage batteries, the use of solar and other intermittent resources is maximized for optimal energy management.
Owners of multifamily and mixed-use buildings now face rising demand from tenants and new regulations to integrate renewable energy solutions into their properties. Powertree and Panasonic's unique model demonstrates a solution that has turned a potentially burdensome situation into new value. Through collaboration, cities across the U.S. can have access to clean, cost-effective and reliable energy. That's something to feel bright about.
Jamie Evans is managing director and head of U.S. Eco Solutions for Panasonic Enterprise Solutions Co., a unit company of Panasonic North America. Contact Panasonic Eco Solutions at firstname.lastname@example.org.