Batteries (and other energy storage) – the next big challenge

We are in a period of transition with renewables. With prices coming down and research ramping up, it feels like are starting to turn a corner.

We need a flexible grid

One of the biggest puzzles is how to store electricity, as we shift to using more and more renewable energy sources. The electricity grid needs to be able to be more flexible to the fluctuations in supply of wind, solar, etc.

image courtesy of the Independent Electricity System Operator.
image courtesy of the Independent Electricity System Operator.

Larger institutions are starting to seriously look for answers to that question. In the US, there are are investigations in a number of areas, including the Long Island Power Authority, The Hawaii Electric Company and the California Public Utilities Commission:

Ontario is also working setting out on this quest. The province’s Independent Electricity System Operator (IESO) recently chose five companies to work on demonstration projects designed to capture and release energy.

The technologies that will be tested include advanced batteries, systems that store power in the form of hydrogen, and even flywheels that hold energy as kinetic energy in a spinning rotor.
The test projects will be distributed at various locations around the province, and will be connected to different parts of the grid to see how effectively they can help balance supply, demand and other transmission issues.

Dimplex helps out

One of the companies chosen is one that we work with here at SNDI…

Dimplex North America Ltd. will install thermal systems in apartments in Hamilton, Ont., that store electricity as heat in special bricks, releasing it later when the building needs to be warmed.

For more information on this fascinating subject, here are some resources:

Clean Technica

The Globe and Mail, and

Ihe IESO website