U.S. policymakers must focus more closely on developing new energy storage technologies as they consider a national renewable electricity standard, according to one of the principal recommendations in a newly released report, Integrating Renewable Electricity on the Grid, by the American Physical Society’s Panel on Public Affairs (POPA). Establishing a national renewable electricity standard will help to unify the fragmented U.S. grid system—an important step in the wider adoption of using more wind and solar for energy generation.
But without a focus on storage devices, it will be difficult to meet proposed renewable electricity standards, says the report. Wind and solar energy are variable by nature: The sun doesn’t always shine, and the wind doesn’t always blow. The amount of electricity a consumer has available to complete household chores could change in a matter of seconds, hours, or days—placing great importance on the need for reliable storage methods.
Another grid challenge: Long-distance transmission of renewable electricity from places that receive a lot of wind and sun to those that do not. “We must move faster to have storage ready to accommodate, for example, 20% of renewable electricity on the grid by 2020,” said George Crabtree, co-chairman of the POPA study panel and a senior scientist at Argonne National Laboratory.
The report addresses variability and transmission issues by urging the DOE to increase research on materials, develop energy storage devices, and by encouraging the DOE to focus on long-distance superconducting direct current cables to bring renewable electricity to load centers, lessening the chance that power will be disrupted. The report also calls for examining renewable electricity for a unified grid instead of a fragmented one fragmented, and improving the accuracy of weather forecasts to allow for better integration of renewable electricity on the grid.
The report suggests the DOE:
- Develop an overall strategy for energy storage in grid-level applications that provides guidance to regulators to recognize the value that energy storage brings to both transmission and generation services on the grid;
- Review the technological potential for a range of battery chemistries, including those it supported during the 1980s and 1990s, with a view toward possible applications to grid energy and storage; and
- Increase its research and development in basic electrochemistry to identify materials and electrochemical mechanisms that have the highest potential use in grid-level energy storage devices.
- Extend the Office of Electricity program on High Temperature Superconductivity for 10 years, with a focus on direct current superconducting cables for long-distance transmission of renewable electricity from source to market.
- Accelerate R&D on wide band gap power electronics for controlling the grind’s power flow, including alternating to direct-current conversion options and development of semiconductor based circuit breakers operating at 200 kV and 50 kA.
Furthermore, The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission and the North American Electric Reliability Corporation should:
- Develop an integrated business case that captures the full value of renewable generation and electricity storage in the context of transmission and distribution.
- Adopt a uniform integrated business case as their official evaluation and regulatory structure, in concert with the state Public Utility Commissions.
Regarding forecasting, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the National Weather Service, the National Center for Atmospheric Research and private vendors should:
- Improve the accuracy of weather and wind forecasts on time scales from hours to days
- Develop uniform standards for preparing and delivering wind and power generation forecasts.
Wind plant operators and regulatory agencies should develop:
- Operating procedures to respond to power generation forecasts.
- Criteria for contingencies, the response to up-and-down-ramps in generation and the response to large weather disturbances.
- A response other than maintaining conventional reserve, including electricity storage and transmission to distant load centers.
American Physical Society
Filed Under: Policy