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Summary:

Battery-powered energy storage provides an on-demand, predictable source of energy to power systems to keep them running optimally, and even to enable new projects, but the cost seems to be scaring some people away despite the high value the technology brings beyond mere stored energy.

Energy Storage Panel: Chris Campbell, A123 Systems, and John Zahurancik, AES Energy Storage at Green:Net 2011

Energy Storage Panel: Chris Campbell, A123 Systems, and John Zahurancik, AES Energy Storage at Green:Net 2011Some would argue that Americans place too much concern on the cost of things instead of on the value of those things, which could have them overlooking the potential for grid energy-storage solutions. Energy storage provides an on-demand, predictable source of energy to power systems to keep them running optimally, and even to enable new projects, but the cost seems to be scaring some people away.

At least, that’s the message from a Green:Net fireside chat with Chris Campbell, VP of business development for the Energy Solutions Group at A123 Systems, and John Zahurancik, VP of operations and deployment at AES Energy Storage. According to Campbell, lower prices for battery-powered energy storage units are important, but such concerns over price ignore the added value that energy storage brings. If, for example, a new energy storage unit can be used for multiple applications by a power company, it adds more value than its cost in kilowatts per dollar might suggest.

Zahurancik elaborated on that point, noting that energy storage systems aren’t just stores of energy, as the name might suggest. They actually improve overall power system performance. He compares them to the memory in a computer, which caches information to minimize the need to call the hard disk every time an application needs that cached data and results in a faster, smoother experience for the user. Additionally, he explained, battery-powered units are emission-free and don’t require any special geological requirements for siting, so power companies can save a lot of time and effort on those fronts. They’re also easily scalable, meaning capacity can be added as needed, generally, without much effort.

That being said, prices are coming down. Zahurancik said that his company, which buys and installs the units for customers, paid two or three times more for them just a few years ago. In part, he thinks prices are coming down in tandem with the popularity of electric cars, which are both improving the technology (they’re built by the same manufacturers) and driving up awareness. And of course, Campbell noted, more companies will start seeing the value of battery-powered energy storage as the prices drop. Demand is all about viability for particular applications, he explained, and lower prices make the technology viable for a lot more applications.

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  1. FREEPAT75014 Friday, April 22, 2011

    Electrical storage is the magic link that can make clean energies reliable and usefull sources, versus mostly wasted intermittant things today.

  2. FREEPAT75014 Friday, April 22, 2011

    Problem is Renewables like Solar and Wind already badly struggle to compete on energy prices vs fossil fuels and nuclear power sources even when omitting to count the energy storage they require in their costs. If you add it with the right balance of capacities and admit only them need it (intermittant otherwise),you kill them for at least another decade. But if you find a way to justify this energy storage at a highr level, at the Grid level, mutualized accross all Power sources, to capture the other wasted energy capacities (For exemple to limit the energy lost at night when demand is weak and Nuclear plants can’t be turned down so rapidly, using the same storage capacity to store the Solar and win power during the day and input it in the grid in the evening when deamand peaks), then the equation may become better, even though this could help further reduce the cost for Nuclear and Fossil sources limiting their wasted production….

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