Barrier Breaking Batteries Going Gangbusters
July 18, 2013
Point one. New Battery tech keeps barreling along, and is becoming a no brainer solution to peak load problems, with or without renewable energy sources.
“Energy storage is no longer an idea and a theory — it’s actually a practical reality,” said Steve Hellman, Eos’s president. “You’re seeing a lot of commercial activity in the energy storage sector.”
Part of the appeal is economic: utilities could buy power from centralized plants during off-peak hours, when it is cheaper, and use it to feed the grid at peak hours when it is typically more expensive. That could also relieve congestion on some transmission lines, reducing strain and the need to spend money upgrading or repairing them. In addition, batteries could help integrate more renewable sources like solar and wind into the power grid, smoothing out their intermittent production.
“Energy storage in general has been kind of a holy grail for utilities — a lot of the generation and demand is instantaneous,” said Joseph Carbonara, project manager in research and development at Con Edison, who is managing the Eos program. “The utilities have always been looking to buffer that.”
…the technology has generally proved too expensive for widespread adoption.
Eos says it has gotten around that problem. Its battery relies on zinc, a relatively plentiful and cheap element. The company projects that its cost will be $160 a kilowatt-hour, and that it would provide electricity cheaper than a new gas power plant built to help fulfill periods of high demand, Eos executives said. Other battery technologies can range from $400 to about $1,000 a kilowatt-hour.
Just so you caught that – storage technology is now competitive with, even cheaper than, the natural gas turbines that have been the “go-t0” solution for several decades.
Meanwhile, the gas industry pushes ahead to raise prices still further.
I stopped studying econ at the 101 level, – but, is there anyone out there who does not see where this is going?
American drillers have done so well with the controversial method of hydraulic fracturing (fracking) to reach underground stores of natural gas that they now have too much on their hands and want to export some of it abroad. But such a move could result in higher gas prices in the U.S., as well as even more fracking operations that can endanger the environment.
In Louisiana, Cheniere Energy‘s $10-billion Sabine Pass natural gas terminal originally built to import natural gas is now being converted to facilitate the shipping of fracking-produced gas to Great Britain. Initial shipments are scheduled for 2015, with nearly 20 tons of natural gas to be transported per year.
These efforts represent quite a turnaround for the industry. Less than a decade ago, domestic production of natural gas was so low that facilities were being built in U.S. ports to import foreign natural gas.
But the fracking revolution has produced an abundance of natural gas, causing the price to drop to around $4 per million BTU (British Thermal Unit).
All of this may be good news for gas companies, but not necessarily good for consumers or the environment.
Consumer groups and some manufacturers that use natural gas oppose expanded exports, claiming the exports could drive up domestic prices and make manufacturing more expensive.