How Energy Storage Will Transform the Renewable Energy Landscape

How Energy Storage Will Transform the Renewable Energy Landscape
09 Feb 2016

By Zolaikha Strong, Director of Sustainable Energy for the Copper Development Association

Headshot ZStrongCommercial, industrial, and utility sectors are installing photovoltaic panels and building high-megawatt wind farms to generate clean, efficient power to meet our rising energy demands. These alternative energy sources are free and plentiful and emit a low carbon footprint. In its most basic form, energy storage is the capture of energy produced at one time for use at a later time. Energy storage batteries will allow the grid to optimally store electricity generated from not only renewables such as wind and solar, but from all energy sources to provide resiliency for reliable transmission of electricity on the grid.

The need for reliable energy storage continues to be an important policy topic in Congress and among federal regulatory agencies. Policymakers and researchers alike know that developing technology to store electrical energy so it can be available to meet demand whenever needed would result in a major breakthrough on the electrical grid. To see this goal realized, energy storage installations are working to create a more responsive electric grid for utilities and customers.

Congress continues to show support for renewable energy through financial incentives. Most notably were the multi-year extension of the production tax credit and investment tax credit which will continue to fuel the growth of the wind and solar energy industries. Similarly, the United States Department of Energy (DOE) is working to ensure the resiliency, reliability, and security of the nation’s electrical grid, which was demonstrated by the recent creation of the Grid Modernization Initiative. As part of the initiative, the DOE awarded $18 million to six projects for solar technologies that incorporate energy storage. These projects will enable the development of integrated, scalable, and cost-effective solar technologies that incorporate energy storage to power American homes.

Copper is an integral part of sustainable energy initiatives because of its reliability, efficiency, and performance. Its superior electrical and thermal conductivities increase the energy efficiency of countless energy driven systems, including energy storage. The use of copper wiring, tubing, cabling, and myriad electrical and mechanical parts keeps these systems operating longer, and at higher efficiencies. This allows the increased power that is generated to be used rather than lost to the system. The Copper Development Association remains a close ally and partner to the energy storage industry and commissioned a comprehensive market evaluation report for energy storage.

The Copper Development Association, along with other energy policy stakeholders, recently participated in a policy forum organized by the Energy Storage Association (ESA). The meeting proved to be an excellent opportunity to discuss policy objectives and how to encourage advancements in the energy storage industry. ESA was also instrumental behind the formation of the Congressional Battery Energy Storage Caucus which provides awareness and education to Members of Congress. United States Congressmen Mark Takano (D-CA) and Chris Collins (R-NY) have teamed up to co-chair the congressional caucus.

Energy storage plays an important role in facilitating renewables in the United States electrical grid and it will continue to play a contributing role in the ongoing development of utilities. Energy storage technology paired with renewables such as wind and solar has the power to transform the energy landscape. Copper is now, and will continue to be, a partner in this growth because its qualities of reliability, efficiency, durability, and safety are fundamental to the design of properly-functioning battery cells.

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