Almost everybody will agree that the power grid is undergoing radical rethinking and re-engineering. The old issues of reliability and capacity are still with us, but the new issues of renewable and sustainable generation technologies like solar and wind, the last-mile dilemma and escalating power demands coupled with significantly rising costs to the consumer are fueling the grid-level debates like never before.
Central to these debates is the role played by energy storage in the grid space. In the past I have talked about ultracapacitor energy storage on the grid or firming renewables to ease the integration of these technologies into the grid. But energy storage plays a much more important role than just stabilizing renewables' output. It has the ability to change the way energy and power are managed on a second-by-second basis. Grid-level architects have just begun to scratch the surface of what energy storage can and will do for the power grid.
Electric vehicle battery. Source: Nissan Motor Corp.
It always comes down to economics and benefits to the ratepayer. Can a particular technology lower the costs consumers have to pay for the electrical energy that powers their homes? All the creativity that great minds can muster is being applied to address this fundamental question, not only the "if" but the "how."