President Obama is determined that one of his lasting legacies become the expansion of the New Energy Economy, which includes renewables, microgrids and energy storage. To that end, last week, he launched a new series of executive orders to achieve such measures — with this set focused on energy storage.
At its core, energy storage harnesses electrons and releases them later when they are needed. Residential storage devices are smaller systems that produce 5-10 kilowatts of electricity and often installed in garages. More expensive per kilowatt hours, they are typically used for backup power (instead of generators) or to maximize rooftop solar production.
Grid-scale storage is 1 megawatt or more and sold to utilities by storage developers, typically through requests for proposals. They are used for frequency regulation or renewable smoothing – the most prevalent use today. That is, when the lights begin to flicker, they kick on and prevent even momentary lapses of power — things that are vital to hospitals and military bases.
“Building on this progress, smart electricity market reforms, enhanced transparency, and flexible energy resources such as storage and demand response have the potential to further accelerate the development of a cleaner and smarter grid,” the White House in its fact sheet.
In 2015, it adds, the US doubled its energy storage capacity to 500 megawatts. It wants to hit 1,300 megawatts in five years. How? For starters, the fact sheet says:
- A new report by the White House Council of Economic Advisers on the technical and economic considerations and opportunities relating to the grid integration of renewable energy resources.
- The federal government committing to increasing its storage and microgrid capacity through programs that will make our federal and military bases more resilient and provide funding for microgrids in rural communities.
- The U.S. Department of Energy promoting access to and standardization of energy data.
The administration adds that 16 developers and power companies in eight states have announced new storage procurement and deployment targets for the next five years — things that could attract hundreds of millions in new investments and financing.
“In aggregate, these new procurement, deployment, and investment commitments announced today could lead to approximately $1 billion in investments in energy storage,” the White House says. “Power companies and developers committing to deploy smart water heaters, smart meters, and demand response programs.”