Published on November 6th, 2015 | by Jake Richardson12
California Energy Storage Initiative Expands
November 6th, 2015 by Jake Richardson
Two new members joined CalCharge, California’s energy storage initiative. They are Southern California Edison and the University of California, San Diego. Members get access to researchers and labs at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory, and Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory. Some other prominent members are Toyota and Bosch, and CalCharge now has 27 members total. Over 130 California companies are working to advance battery technology.
“Together we can seek a future where energy use is cleaner and more reliable, our customer choice is plentiful, and our customer lives will be better,” says Stuart Hemphill, an executive at Southern California Edison. Southern California Edison supplies electricity to about 14 million people in Southern California.
UCSD has its own microgrid, which it uses to manage and distribute electricity generated by burning natural gas, and it has 2.3 MW of solar power. Over 90% of the campus electricity is generated by the microgrid — the remainder comes from the local utility. The university in La Jolla wants to become carbon-neutral by 2025. It’s an obvious enough point, but having a microgrid at a university and a large solar array is a great way to expose students to clean technology.
CalCharge is a public-private partnership focused on accelerating the development of energy storage technologies and their adoption. A Berkeley Lab researcher, Venkat Srinivasan, explained why public-private collaborations are important: “It’s possible our lab, working alone, will make a spectacular discovery enabling a cost-effective electric vehicle that can go 300 miles on a single charge. But that discovery in the Lab will translate to real-world impact much faster only if we work with materials companies, battery companies, and car companies, and understand the challenges they face.”
One fascinating prospect is using vehicle batteries to make stationary energy storage devices. This technology has recently been used in Germany, but innovation can cross international boundaries. Worldwide, there is clearly a strong incentive to build energy storage rapidly, in order to catch up with the surge in renewable energy installations.