Grid Storage Will Transform the World of Renewables

  • Published on March 20th, 2017

Renewable energy is on the brink of becoming the most sought after power source in history. And why not? Sunshine and wind are free. Once the systems are in place to capture their energy and convert it into electricity, there are no “fuel costs” needed to make more electricity in the future.

Add in the millions of tons of carbon dioxide emissions that don’t get released into the atmosphere every year by renewable energy installations, and humanity has a never-before possible opportunity to utilize the power of electricity without polluting the environment.

There is one problem, however. Electricity is ephemeral. once created, it needs to be used immediately, or else it is lost. Often, wind turbines and solar farms produce more electricity than is needed right away, which means the excess is wasted.

The answer is grid storage, a way of capturing electricity now and being able to use it later. Over the years, pumped hydro systems have been attempted, and they can be quite useful in some locations. For instance, National Grid in the UK has been operating a pumped storage system inside two mountains in Wales since 1982.

Excess electricity during the day is used to pump water uphill. In the evening, when the demand for electricity rises, the water is allowed to flow downhill through enormous tunnels, spinning hydroelectric generators as it goes.

In Nevada, a start-up company plans to build a railroad up the side of a mountain. A train loaded with concrete blocks will be moved uphill during the day using excess electricity. In the evening, the train will run back downhill, generating electricity along the way.

Both ideas are examples of what is known as “time shifting.” Make electricity now, use it later. Time shifting is the key to eliminating fossil fuel and nuclear generating facilities and replacing them with renewable energy from solar or wind.

Grid scale battery storage has another advantage. It enables renewable energy to be used closer to the source, cutting down on the amount that sloshes back and forth inside the utility grid every day. Locally sourced electricity needs less investment in substations, transformers, poles, and wires, which can save utility companies money.

Alcen Renewables* is a an independent company located in California that specializes in delivering large scale clean renewable energy to the utility grid. It sources, organizes, funds, and delivers high return energy projects that generate clean electricity, income, jobs and independence to rural landowners and rural economies. Alcen Renewables’s mission is to investigate, coordinate, research, plan, organize, and build relationships that get big infrastructure projects off the ground and help them become a reality.

The company says, “Everywhere you look there are more and smarter electrical devices. They make our homes comfortable, enable us to work smarter and increase our ability to communicate quickly and easily. Transport and heating is shifting to use more electrical power. There is a growing number of hybrid and electric cars, buses and trucks on the road as well as the electric trains and trams we already use in our cities. The global shift to an electricity-based economy is getting faster, globally and locally.”

Alcen Renewables’s investors are people well versed in private equity financing. They put in the development capital that gets projects shovel ready. Their funding enables us to do the research and put together the permits, contracts, construction plans and long term Power Purchase Agreements (PPAs) that turn a renewable energy development into a stable, long term investment.

Once those projects are shovel ready, Alcen Renewables helps create a stable, low risk investment that is attractive to traditional institutional financiers such as JP Morgan, CitiBank and other large investors.

As battery storage becomes more common, Alcen Renewables will be directly involved in planning and financing them to promote the use of clean, renewable energy both in the US and around the world.

*This post is sponsored by Alcen Renewables; images from Alcen Renewables

Don't forget to follow Solar Love on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, and/or RSS!! Do it for the sun.

About the Author

writes about the interface between technology and sustainability from his home in Rhode Island. You can follow him on Google + and on Twitter.