At a conference held in San Francisco last month, California Governor Jerry Brown announced that the state will increase the energy storage, in order to be able to better capture all of the renewable energy it produces.
The primary goal of the state is to have one third of its electricity supply from renewable energy sources by 2020. In order to achieve this, the energy storage should reach 1.3 gigawatt-hours, which should be sufficient to power a million households.
Immediately after Brown’s proposal was announced, numerous large-scale battery makers, including General Electric Co and Bill Gates’ own Microsoft Corp began competing for a piece of the pie. Rough estimates of market analysts indicate that by 2017 the state will have installations worth more than $10 billion.
The biggest question here, however, is whether ratepayers will contribute from the developments. It is no secret that quite a number of big energy storage projects have already run out of funds, and if this continues in the future, it would ultimately reflect on consumers’ bills. This is especially the case since major energy storage business and battery makers such as A123 Systems and Beacon Power LLC, have not being able to bring down the costs and reporting bankruptcy.
But this time, the investors are aiming at new technologies with billions of dollars pouring towards compressed air and eco-friendly rechargeable battery startups.
It is only a matter of time before we read about major breakthroughs in energy storage technologies. Elon Musk, founder of Tesla Motors, is convinced that this is the way to go, and even he tries to implement his company’s car battery making technology into a new solar system facility.
Although most projects are still highly dependent on governmental funds, the list of companies investing in storage technology is quite long, and includes various German and American manufacturers, who are desperate to develop efficient rechargeable devices that can serve on a grid scale. It is even more exciting to see how major capitalists invest in modifications of existing battery technologies so that they become suitable for use in wind and solar farms.
As it stands right now, the odds go against energy storage seeing it as an uneconomic encounter, but everyone believes that grid scale storage is essential and much needed. Although building storage facilities is much more expensive that let’s say constructing a gas power plant, storage boosts efficiency as one third of the generated energy from renewable sources currently goes to waste.