A major obstacle to wider adoption of renewable energy, such as Bay Area solar and wind power, for utility companies is the fact that these technologies produced major fluctuations in output that are difficult for grids to handle on a large scale. Solar only creates electricity during the day, and wind turbines generate lots of power when the wind is blowing, but create nothing on days when the air is still. This means that electrical companies must come up with battery technology that can help smooth these peaks and valleys, providing juice when the system isn’t generating and storing it when power plants are most productive.
Recognizing this problem, California Governor Jerry Brown has proposed greater investment in the development of new, experimental large scale storage technologies that can handle gigawatt-hours of electricity that run through the grid every day. The goal is that this investment will lead to advancements in battery tech, but also make it commercially viable. According to Reuters, Gov. Brown hopes that California’s storage capacity will hit 1.3 gigawatts by 2020.
The promise of government investment in this industry has spurred many companies to accelerate development of better batteries. These include large scale battery maker LG Chem. and multinational conglomerate General Electric. In addition, investors such as Peter Thiel (known for his initial investment in Facebook) and Microsoft founder Bill Gates have also begun to explore the possibility of entering the large scale electrical storage market.
While these issues affect the way utilities pursue the construction of major solar generation plants, homeowners and businesses should understand that they don’t have to wait for electric companies to get on board with solar power. You can elect to install solar power for your home or company today, and immediately experience lower or even eliminated energy costs. For more information, contact West Coast Solar today.