Stabilizing the electric grid with megawatt-scale storage 

An interesting story today by John Timmer on Ars Technica site about the need  for more energy storage on the electric grid, especially as more renewable energy sources come on line. It’s a bit of an esoteric topic, or at least one that doesn’t get a lot of public discussion. But the storage is a necessary cushion to handle fluctuations in power.

The story gave this example of why storage is necessary: “Gyuk used Texas, which has invested heavily in developing its wind capacity, as an example of why, if energy storage is good under normal circumstances, it’s essential to enable greater reliance on renewable power. According to Gyuk, in 2008, a sudden plunge in wind caused the state to suffer a 1400MW drop in power in a mere 10 minutes; only fast action by the utilities’ industrial customers, who cut their own usage quickly, bailed them out. Events like that tend to drive up prices dramatically, but the converse also takes place when the turbines spin up. In a single month, Texas has apparently experienced 533 instances where the grid price for electricity was negative for short periods of time. Adding storage to the mix would not only smooth over the power disruptions, but it should significantly limit the price fluctuations, as well.” Read more

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