The Promise of Energy Battery StorageDate:
Battery storage has long been hyped as the “silver bullet” that will make a 100% clean energy future possible. Energy storage helps balance fluctuations in electricity supply by storing electricity during periods of relatively high production and low demand to release back to the electric power grid during periods of lower production or higher demand. We have heard for years about the benefits that energy storage will provide as we wait with bated breath for affordable and effective batteries to be developed and put to use across the United States. That’s why, as part of CEN’s recently launched Clean Future Academy, we are doing a deeper dive into the promise of energy battery storage.
Perhaps one of the best examples of the benefits of battery storage lies in a town that you’ve probably never heard of – Minster, Ohio. The small Ohio town, not far from the birthplace of Neil Armstrong, boasts a population of 3,000 and plays host to an Oktoberfest festival that draws 100,000 attendees each year. Minster is also home to a manufacturing hub for Dannon Yogurt. Dannon adopted corporate sustainability requirements that included a commitment to using clean energy that required the conservative town of Minster to face a choice – embrace clean technology or lose the area’s largest employer. Fortunately for all involved, Minster chose the former and went to work installing the nation’s first municipal-led solar farm coupled with battery storage. This breakthrough allows Dannon to run its facility around the clock on renewable energy that is either actively being produced or stored in batteries.
Battery storage has many advantages beyond the economic benefits associated with new, clean technology investment and is more than a necessary backstop to make intermittent energy sources like wind and solar reliable generation options. Improving battery technology has added a whole new layer of efficiency and flexibility to America’s increasingly antiquated energy grid by eliminating the need to continually keep generation capacity in reserve. This not only increases the reliability of our electricity here at home, but it also maximizes American-made energy which ultimately lowers consumer costs, eliminates American dependence on foreign energy, and re-establishes an era of American energy dominance.
It should also be noted that rooftop solar plus storage allows residents and businesses to have electricity in their homes and commercial buildings during grid outages. Without storage, energy generated by solar panels must be disconnected for safety reasons in many jurisdictions. This deprives the owner of electricity that is literally available on their roof. In short, energy storage provides a “buffer” for both homes and businesses against grid conditions that are often beyond their control.
The good news is that thousands of megawatts of energy battery storage have already been deployed. While much more capacity will be needed, the industry is quickly growing. Tax credits for energy storage have enjoyed bipartisan support in Congress and Republican governors across the country are embracing battery manufacturing facilities opening in their states. While lithium-ion batteries, like what we currently have in our cell phones and other electronic devices, are the leading technology, other options are coming to the market, each with their own benefits to the grid. As battery companies continue to innovate, we can expect to see newer, more efficient batteries that will be able to support charges lasting over 100 hours.
It’s easy to see why energy storage is popular with Americans of all political persuasions. It’s a win for local economies, a win for American energy independence, and a win for carbon reduction. That’s why, according to CEN’s 2022 annual clean energy survey, 84% of Americans support “increasing research and development to accelerate the adoption of battery storage technologies that allow for greater use of renewable energy even when the sun is not shining, or the wind is not blowing.” We look forward to watching this emerging industry continue to grow as America leads the transition to a clean energy future.