Yet another city is offering incentives to homeowners to use thermal energy storage for night time wind power. As the percentage of wind power on the grid increases we may see more incentives to help store the excess with this kind of simple distributed energy storage.
Now the city of Summerside on Canada’s Prince Edward Island is asking homeowners to buy a special heating unit to help them store excess night time wind energy the city is producing. It is offering a break on their electricity bills in return.
Because wind in the region blows more at night, when the demand is lowest, wind farms can wind up selling at a loss, or even giving away power at those times.
The need for storage for wind power is great. Most of the storage being considered is at the utility scale. But ceramic block thermal heating units in homes can turn a night time energy excess into another valuable form of energy for use in cold climates. Heat.
Currently Prince Edward Island is selling about 15 per cent of the energy from its wind turbines to the mainland, because it cannot use all the electricity generated locally, because most of the power is generated at night. Like the 100% wind powered island of Vinalhaven in Maine, which had the same problem, it wound up having to sell its night time wind power excess at lower rates.
So, to solve the problem, at a recent council meeting, the city announced a new program asking homeowners to buy a special, ceramic space heater that is set to receive night time wind electricity, store it as heat, and release the heat slowly over 24 hours. The heaters use high-density ceramic bricks. This type of thermal energy storage is already in use in homes in the UK to even out peak demand on its electricity grid.
City administrator Terry Murphy said the heaters are really no different than a furnace.
“The demand for the heat can be adjusted as you do today. In other words, you can set your thermostat at certain levels. It will be no different with this here,” said Murphy.
The heaters cost about $2,000 each, but they save money over the long term, due to the low price of off peak power. But savings over the long term frequently is not enough to move people to act. So to encourage homeowners to step up to help even the grid, the city is offering an extra break on electricity prices, in hopes of getting at least 100 residents to invest in one of the heaters in 2011.
“We’re looking at about $600 a year that could be beneficial to the consumer,” said Murphy.
Related stories on thermal energy storage for night time wind:
Maine Residents Get $6,000 to Store Wind as Slow Heating
Is Distributed Thermal Storage Next?
100% Wind-Powered Island off Maine
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