Among the most commonly heard criticisms of renewable energy is the problem of intermittent supply. The sun doesn't always shine and the wind doesn't always blow when you most need it to. While smart grids and demand response may get us some of the way to matching demand with supply, the viability of energy storage is also a hugely important factor. We've already seen New Jersey investing in compressed air energy storage, and the world's first 24/7 solar power plant is up-and-running in Spain. An interesting overview at Renewable Energy World suggests that the energy storage industry is coming of age, and it could prove to be a game changer for renewables:
Grid-scale energy storage is gaining momentum as batteries, flywheels and compressed air systems begin proving they can regulate frequency and ancillary services with the same efficiency of "spinning reserves" from fossil fuel-fired power plants.
"We still hear people say storage isn't ready for primetime, but that isn't the case because we already have 20-MW storage plants being built all over the country," said Brad Roberts, executive director of the Electricity Storage Association (ESA).