Energy storage systems are focus of demand for future power grids

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Electric Power Grid

From the early days of nuclear research and development, experts claimed that nuclear power would be too cheap to meter, but that dream was killed dead after the Three Mile Island and Chernobyl nuclear disasters lead to costly upgrades and regulatory standards which lead to worldwide delays and cost overruns at nuclear construction sites.  Prior to the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster, nuclear power advocates were promoting the production capabilities of nuclear power plants around the world.

After the nuclear disaster in Japan threatened to shut down Japan’s nuclear reactors for good, fear mongering headlines in Japan said that without the nation’s nuclear power plants supplying electricity the nation would face certain blackouts and power shortages, neither of which occurred.

The same scare tactics were used in the United States after the San Onofre reactors went offline and after the Kewaunee Nuclear Power Station in Wisconsin was announced would be decommissioned, but California also evaded any blackouts or power shortages, and subsequent studies in Wisconsin found the power supply would be more than enough even without the nuclear power plant supplying electricity to the grid.

These developments have caused many nuclear advocates to change their approach to the issue, and they are now promoting the ability of nuclear reactors to ensure climate goals, but there are more realistic and productive ways of addressing emission issues and the market is beginning to take notice.

Two years removed from the March 11th disaster, electronics firms are realizing the consumers are spending less on frivolous purchases like larger televisions and multiple computers and are demanding new types of power transmission and storage services which can be used with renewable energy sources, which are vital after natural disasters and other emergencies.  In response to these rising demands, many of the world’s leading companies are now focusing their efforts on the development and production of power storage systems.

Many of the biggest problems with national power grids have little to do with production and focus more around transmission issues and costs as well as peak demand periods.   Germany has been profiting from this further progress on energy storage, and plans to encourage and incentivize future research and development programs which provide extra energy storage capacity and help promote decentralized power generation.  One of Germany’s future development programs is working to create new solar power batteries which can be installed and connected in houses alongside solar panels, which would allow stored power to be used later by the consumer or offloaded into the national energy grid.  Such battery units could also provide flexibility and a backup power source for local utilities during an outage, or periods of grid instability.

Given the recent push to invest in wind and solar power technologies, the incentive to develop energy storage technologies will be a boon for failing and unstable power grids around the world, as long as operators acknowledge the benefit of produced power being stored in order to ease bottlenecks in regional power grid areas, rather than being expensively transmitted from distant production facilities at rising cost to consumers.

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