Frequently Asked Questions
Energy storage fundamentally improves the way we generate, deliver, and consume electricity. Energy storage helps during emergencies like power outages from storms, equipment failures, accidents or even terrorist attacks. But the game- changing nature of energy storage is its ability to balance power supply and demand instantaneously – within miliseconds – which makes power networks more resilient, efficient, and cleaner than ever before.
- During times of peak electricity demand – like when air conditioners ramp up on hot days – many utilities charge customers extra since they have to ramp up expensive additional electricity production to meet the demand. These charges are called “time-of-use” or “peak” prices since they are tied solely to WHEN a customer uses the electricity.
- Energy storage works in similar ways, but since energy storage lets municipality decide when to buy and when to use the power, a municipality is freed from premium charges.
- Municipality naturally purchase the electricity at off-peak prices for use during peaks.
Energy storage systems currently make up approximately 2% of U.S. generation capacity and just over 3% of Germany. That percentage is growing significantly, especially with the advent of more renewable energy. Pumped hydroelectric power has played an important part of our electricity grid since the 1930s. Yet today, electricity from wind, solar and other ‘intermittant’ sources have created urgent needs for additional energy storage.
Energy storage is needed on an industrial or grid scale for three main reasons.
– The first is to “balance load” – to shift energy consumption into the future, often by several hours – so that more existing generating capacity is used efficiently.
– The second reason is to “bridge” power – in other words, to ensure there is no break in service during the seconds-to- minutes required to switch from one power generation source to another.
– Finally, power quality management – the control of voltage and frequency to avoid damaging sensitive equipment – is an increasing concern that storage can alleviate whenever needed, for a few seconds or less, many times each day.
Yes, energy storage systems are “fuel neutral.” Whether electricity is generated from oil, gas, coal, nuclear, wind, solar, geothermal, or other sources, energy storage captures excess electricity at high efficiencies for optimal use during outages, peak hours, or whenever effective grid management is a challenge.
The primary benefits are:
- Risk of Power Outages: Today’s electricity grid is increasingly vulnerable to threats from nature, terrorists, and accidents.
- Saving Consumers Money
- Clean Energy Integration and Energy Independence: Energy storage supports the integration of renewable energy generation. Energy storage can also help cut emissions as it takes more of the load off fossil-fuel generation. Peaking generation is one of the most costly and wasteful aspects of the grid, so making existing generation go further and avoiding capital and resource-intensive new facilities would make a significant contribution to our environmental priorities. By supporting an all-of-the-above energy strategy, storage will also help accelerate our drive to energy independence.
- Economy and Jobs: In addition to reducing economic losses from major and minor annual outages, experts say that energy storage will be a critical technology in the electricity grids of the future.
- Energy storage can lead to cost savings in two primary ways. The first is by lowering the overall cost of providing electricity. The second is by allowing customers to avoid premium pricing (or “peak demand”). Industry insiders call this saving money on “both sides of the electric meter.” But broader energy storage deployment can save consumers money in additional ways. Shorter outages for residents after a storm or an equipment failure can help save not only money but lives. And fewer outages overall lead to less economic losses. Is energy storage clean?
- Yes. Energy storage has no direct emissions. It requires no pipelines. Its systems typically require a minimal footprint. It recycles electricity. But energy storage will also help cut emissions as it takes more of the load off traditional generation.