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Renewable Energy Storage — What Happens When the Wind Stops Blowing and the Sun Goes Down?
February 13, 2019
In this era of growing reliance on clean and renewable
energy sources, such as hydro, thermal, wind and solar, new challenges are
presented with the impact their intermittent flow has on the grid. Storage of energy to reliably cover the times
the sun isn’t shining, and the wind isn’t blowing requires a realistic
The complex system that makes up the electricity grid
requires supply and demand to be equal, and constant adjustments to the supply
are needed to mirror anticipated and unexpected changes in demand. These changes in demand consist of conditions
like our typical daily routines, storms, equipment overloads, and increased
usage from sudden extreme temperature change.
Energy storage is an imperative piece of the delicate
balancing act required to maintain the grid.
Now, more than ever, the quest to create a more flexible and reliable
grid is a challenge looming on the horizon.
So How is Energy Stored?
– Though batteries have been around for a quite some time, their technology
has recently advanced due to the increasing use of electric vehicles. There are many types of batteries which have
large-scale storage abilities, and they are excellent for storage because they
can be located anywhere. Batteries
increase the stability of the grid, with its need for balance in both supply
and demand, because they can be placed near consumers to provide power or near
facilities, such as wind farms, for storage.
Air Energy Storage – This method improves upon the efficient conventional
gas turbines by compressing air during low demand times and storing it in
underground caverns. When there is extra
demand on the grid, air is pulled from the caverns and fired with natural gas
in a combustion turbine to generate electricity.
– A flywheel is a cylinder-shaped device that contains a large rotor inside
a vacuum. It spins at a very high speed,
pulling electricity from the grid and storing it as rotational energy. It releases energy back to the grid by
slowing the rotor and running on inertial energy.
Hydroelectric Storage– One of the oldest forms of energy storage is the
pumping of water into higher elevation reserves or behind hydroelectric dams
during low usage. Water then flows into
the turbines, during periods of high demand, adding more capacity to the grid
- Thermal Storage
of the Sun’s Heat – Uses power from the sun by capturing the heat and
storing the energy in water, molten salts, or other liquids. This can later be used to generate
electricity, which enables the use of solar energy even when the sun isn’t
Storage by Freezing Water – Another thermal storage technology includes
freezing water at night when electricity usage is low; and using the ice during
the day to condense air conditioning system refrigerant. The electricity consumption is shifted from
the daytime when the grid demand is highest to a time when there’s less demand
and electricity costs are lower
What are the Benefits of Energy Storage?
Stored energy’s largest benefit is that it’s discharged to
the grid rapidly as opposed to energy derived from fossil fuels, which take
significantly more time. Quick response
creates more stability for the grid during times of unexpected increase in
Storage is also crucial the farther away a home or business
is from the grid. There is a higher
probability of disruption in electricity flow for those in rural areas versus
in metropolitan areas. Thus, storage
facilities are necessary to ensure power stability for outlying areas.
As we enter the expansion of renewable energy, there are
several ways to be cognizant of your energy efficiency and take control of your
own energy spend. Do-it-yourself
home energy audits are a good start.
Updating old appliances and installing smart thermostats to control
unnecessary use of temperature control when you’re not home.
AEP Energy Reward Store
can help! It’s our one-stop online
marketplace filled with a variety of energy-saving and connected-home products
for your home, such as smart thermostats, LED lights and dimmer switches, and
more, exclusively for our valued customers.
You can earn Reward Dollars to use in Reward Store by enrolling on an
AEP Energy price plan. And, be sure to check out our renewable energy supply
price plan. This plan allows you to match 100% of your electricity usage with
Renewable Energy Certificates (RECs), which supports renewable energy
If you own a business, click here
to contact one of our Small Business Solutions
Energy Consultants for a complimentary energy consultation, or by calling
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