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What Happens when the Wind Stops Blowing and the Sun Goes Down?
May 31, 2019
As we become more reliant on clean and renewable energy
sources, such as hydro, solar, thermal and wind, new challenges are presented
with the impact their intermittent flow has on the grid. 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 changes.
Reliable energy storage is required to cover the times when
the sun isn’t shining, and the wind isn’t blowing. 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
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 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 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
– 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 reservoir or behind hydroelectric dams during low
usage. Water then flows into the turbines, during periods of high demand,
adding more capacity to the grid when needed.
Storage of the Sun’s Heat – This storage method 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 shining.
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 changes in demand.
Storage is also crucial the farther away a home or business
is from the source of generation. There is a higher probability of disruption
in electricity flow for those in rural areas versus in metropolitan areas,
which is why storage facilities are necessary to ensure power stability for
As renewable energy becomes more prevalent, there are
several ways to take control of your energy efficiency and your own energy
home energy audits are a good start. Updating old appliances and
installing smart thermostats help regulate unnecessary use of temperature
control when you’re not at your home or business.
How Can I “Go Green”?
Ready to make the switch to renewable energy? AEP Energy
offers renewable energy supply plans that match your electricity usage with
certified wind Renewable Energy Certificates (RECs) for your home or business.
Visit our website
or contact us at 1-866-258-3782 to learn more.1
1For information on Green-e Energy, write to Green-e Energy, 1012 Torney Ave., 2nd Floor, San Francisco, CA 94129, or visit www.green-e.org.
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