the futureDemands for energy are increasing every day, mostly during the peak hours, a phenomenon driven by surging demands for cooling. The future is hot, so we should consider the option of ice storage.
Peak demand has always been the pain point of every electrical grid. But now, with heavy solar PV integration, it’s getting even worse.
We might as well be monkeys, because the future is going bananas.
One would assume cooling demands are rising due to global warming. In actual fact, there are plenty of climate change related reasons for the rise in electricity usage due to cooling systems.
With urbanization, developing economies are adopting thermal comfort systems. This is merely due to the fact that Southeast Asia is a juggernaut moving fast into the 21st century.
Estimates are that in the next 30 years or so, we would be facing an annual 3% increase of the energy demands for cooling—a staggering 90%(!) rate of growth by 2050.
And then there is solar energy pushing everything to the extreme
The Solar dilemma
Solar energy is great, but increased use of solar energy challenges the stabilization of the grid
In early March 2018, California authorities made the decision to halt all new solar installations. The state did this in order to stop and take stock of their future plans. The reason for that was that California has exceeded its own goals for solar installations. In fact, California has already reached its 2020 goal for solar energy generation.
In the spring of 2018, California broke an all-time record for solar energy generation. This came on the heels of another unexpected achievement in 2016, when one day, solar energy generation exceeded 100% of the grid’s demands.
Currently, California experiences peak generation every day, followed by a 14,000 MW drop within the span of 3 hours, from 4:00 PM to 7:00 PM, around sunset. This phenomenon is known as a ramp-up, the increased demand of the fossil grid to return these 14,000 MW into the grid using conventional means, because no one is prepared for this instability today.
Without the means to manage this frequent crisis, the runaway surplus has become a daily occurrence. That is why California pays states like Arizona to take its solar energy in order to mitigate the ramp-up spike and have it reasonably under control.
What does all this mean?
There appears to be a disconnect between solar energy goals, which many states are adopting and regularly adjusting upwards, and these same states’ goals for acquiring energy storage systems.
The gap between these two kinds of goals is very wide, but we estimate it will start to close soon. More attention would turn to storage.
The figures in the aforementioned report (by the NREL) show that for California to meet its solar goals (50% by 2030), production should increase by 15 GW. However, the current utility goals of California authorities is only 1,325 MW.