Under California’s new energy storage mandates, SDG&E is required to create solar battery storage facilities for a total of 331 megawatts. So far, SDG&E has been granted approval for 5 facilities, which will cover about 83.5 megawatts, while currently a 30-megawatt battery storage center is already in function. The locations for the facilities include Escondido, Poway, San Diego, Fallbrook, and San Juan Capistrano.
Why are California policymakers pushing for solar energy storage? Currently, renewable energy faces challenges with intermittency — or consistency due to limited hours of sunlight or a lack of wind. While overall reliable, there is some issue with slumps in power. On the other hands, sometimes there is an overproduction of renewable energy without enough immediate demand to use up the energy created, which has forced California Independent System Operator to face the decision of sending this unused power to other states — or even curtail the production.
The solution? Create battery storage facilities to store the power rather than give it away or shut it off. This allows cities to capitalize on more production during peak times and rely on reserves during the lulls in energy production.
Ultimately, the goal of battery storage facilities is to help reduce California’s (and other states taking this approach) dependency on natural gas, which still holds a major grip on the state’s electric generation.
Are Battery Facilities the Right Answer?
While policymakers are onboard for battery storage facilities, promoting projects across Southern California, not all people share this viewpoint. Some skeptics believe that current energy storage technologies are too expensive an investment. This mindset doesn’t take into consideration the current challenges of overproduction during peak hours (and loss of that overproduction due to lack of storage or usage), as well as issues with over-demand during lulls in solar production. Though the cost may be several cents higher, the reality is that overtime, prices can be driven down with better technology and efficiency. In addition, there are other benefits to consider when it comes to renewable energy storage.
What makes battery storages facilities beneficial:
- Enable the local grid to be more resilient
- Improves reliability and accessibility of renewable energy
- Provides a safety net or resource to be drawn upon in emergencies
- Allows cities to take full advantage of solar and wind production
- Investing in technologies now could mean a brighter, better future
All together, these benefits point to the reason California policymakers are pushing for storage facilities and calling upon utility companies like SDG&E to pick of the mantle in this area of renewable energy.
Energy Storage Technology Helps Fill in the Gaps
While there is still some debate about the cost-benefits of solar battery storage, the reality is that the technology is still new and continually improving. The more the use of solar battery spreads, the more the technology will become more affordable and accessible. That means with more and more residents in San Diego going solar, the state will be able to better capitalize on solar energy production.
Where previously California would have to funnel energy out to other states during excess times, the battery facilities will now allow more of that energy production to be kept in the state and used for dips. The battery facilities will ideally continue to become more affordable over time, becoming a practical way to store up the “harvest” of solar power during the sunniest of days so that homes can draw upon these reserves when needed. Essentially, solar battery facilities help fill the gaps in energy needs and demands so that renewable energy sources can be used more widespread.