Elec­tri­cal en­ergy stor­age

Jamaica Gleaner - - SOCIAL -

per kWh. Now, de­pend­ing on tur­bine site con­di­tions, it may be as low as US$0.05 per kWh. Per­haps noth­ing more clearly un­der­scores the in­creas­ing com­pet­i­tive­ness of re­new­ables than the ex­am­ple of Ja­maica’s last fos­sil fuel plant – built in 2012 – win­ning the bid to sell power to the grid at 18 US c/kWh. In com­par­i­son, a con­tem­po­ra­ne­ously planned re­new­able en­ergy plant was se­lected to sup­ply 33MW of power to the grid at 8.5 US c/kWh.

Re­duced cost and price sta­bil­ity have made wind and so­lar sources very at­trac­tive in the Caribbean elec­tric­ity equa­tion. These re­sources are also con­ducive to house­hold-level gen­er­a­tion. As a re­sult, a rev­o­lu­tion in the busi­ness model is un­der way. Cus­tomers are no longer forced to be pas­sive con­sumers of util­ity-sup­plied elec­tric­ity. They are proudly ac­quir­ing the sta­tus of ‘pro­sumers’ – con­sumers who ‘pro­duce’ their own elec­tric­ity, sell the ex­cess to the grid, and lever­age the grid to fill any short­fall as needed.

Smart grids will cer­tainly make elec­tric­ity net­works more ef­fi­cient, re­spon­sive and sta­ble but they are by no means a panacea. As things stand to­day, an elec­tric­ity grid that meets min­i­mum re­li­a­bil­ity stan­dards can­not be 100 per cent (or even 60 per cent) pow­ered by re­new­ables. Ef­fi­cient and af­ford­able stor­age of elec­tri­cal en­ergy rep­re­sents the most crit­i­cal in­gre­di­ent to a gen­uine low-car­bon in­dus­try. Recog­nis­ing this, the in­dus­try is pour­ing con­sid­er­able re­sources and ef­forts into ad­vanc­ing me­chan­i­cal, electro­mechan­i­cal, ther­mo­chem­i­cal and other ad­vanced stor­age meth­ods.

The World En­ergy Coun­cil, in its World En­ergy Re­sources Re­port of 2016, demon­strated tremen­dous op­ti­mism about the prospects for these stor­age tech­nolo­gies. The or­gan­i­sa­tion – a UN-ac­cred­ited global en­ergy body with over 3,000 mem­beror­gan­i­sa­tions in more than 90 coun­tries, rep­re­sent­ing the en­tire en­ergy spec­trum – pre­dicts that com­pet­ing stor­age tech­nolo­gies will lead to stor­age costs plum­met­ing as much as 70 per cent over the next 15 years.

In ad­di­tion to re­new­able en­ergy, smart grid, and elec­tri­cal en­ergy stor­age, sev­eral other ex­cit­ing and note­wor­thy tech­nolo­gies are be­ing de­vel­oped that could change the face of the in­dus­try for­ever. These in­clude the rise of elec­tric cars led by Tesla

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