A very interesting article from Gigaom.com crossed our radar yesterday. If its information is reliable (and there’s no reason to doubt it is), it provides a solid case for selling energy storage as a way to avoid spending on massive generating capacity that is rarely used.
The argument runs roughly like this: on most days, California’s electricity demand ranges between about 23GW and 36GW, but occasionally peaks at over 40GW, although this only happens for 70 hours in a year. In order to meet this peak demand, California has to supply the power that would be generated by 20 nuclear power stations. Of course, some of this capacity is idle a lot of the time.
Clearly, the current centralised type of energy grid that has to build huge, expensive generation plants to supply power for a total of less than three days a year is highly wasteful. A more flexible, distributed system, with plenty of energy storage, would be a much more effective way to keep the lights on.