Renewable energy and the Texas electric grid
Wind and solar energy are critical components in the future of the Texas electricity grid. The advantages of renewable energy sources are well know. Cost is one of the traditional drawbacks of renewable energy. But cost is quickly becoming a non-factor when choosing renewable energy sources over fossil fuel sources because the price of both wind and solar electricity has plummeted over recent years thanks to advances in technology and economies of scale. However, one major hurtle remains to be cleared before wind and solar can be depended on as the cornerstones of an electric grid. That is the problem of intermittency and predictability.
Electric Companies are investing in battery storage
For years, renewable energy technologies have been lauded for their ability to bring constant, clean energy to the world. But there’s always been one problem: they can’t produce power when people need it. That’s where battery storage comes in. Electric companies are now investing billions into large-scale battery storage facilities that will provide a much-needed solution for the intermittent nature of renewable energy. When attached to solar panels or wind turbines, these batteries can store electricity generated during off-peak hours.
Solar and wind power are the most sustainable sources of energy, but these clean forms of power generation need storage to provide power when the sun doesn’t shine or winds die down. In order for renewable energy to be a reliable source of electricity, large scale battery storage is necessary.
This means that renewable energy can constantly meet power demands round-the-clock.
Large-scale battery storage provides reliable and affordable energy storage for renewable energy
Utility-scale battery storage is a way for electric utilities to store electrical energy so that it can be accessed when needed. Older battery technologies have been used in the past, but they were not economically viable because of their high cost and low efficiency. Recent innovations, however, have enabled the widespread use of utility-scale storage systems.
There are a few types of utility scale batteries that provide energy storage: lead-acid batteries and lithium ion batteries. For example, a lead-acid battery has a life of about 8 years and can be used for peak shaving (shaving off the peak demand for power) and load leveling (using them to make sure there is always enough electricity on hand). Lithium ion batteries last longer, about 10 years, and can be used for peak shaving and for load leveling.
Large-scale battery storage is coming to Texas
Large scale battery storage has been implemented in other countries, such as Germany, to make their energy grids more reliable. Texas too has a number of projects underway to store excess electricity from the electricity grid during times of high output and low demand. This electricity could be bought up from the grid when real-time electricity rates are cheap and feed back into the grid later when more power is needed by the system.
The growth of renewable energy will be dependent on the ability to store excess power. Large scale battery storage is an important part of this process. Over the years battery technology has seen a series of incremental improvements. Over time, these have added up to the point where utility scale battery storage is starting to become economically viable. More of these projects in the Texas market will facilitate the continued transition of the Texas electricity grid away from coal and natural gas.