An issue that has cropped up as the country moves towards more renewable energy generation is how best to store excess energy generated, say by wind mills during windy periods or solar panels during sunny periods. Energy storage in the form of industrial strength batteries and other technologies is coming, but such things aren’t yet installed where they’re needed.
Wind generators were forced to shut down recently in the windy gap cut by the Columbia River between Washington and Oregon because there is so much water flowing down the Columbia River right now generating electricity in dams that wind generators were told their power wasn’t needed. If energy storage was in place, the wind power could be saved for when it’s needed and doing so could help salmon by replacing power from the four increasingly obsolete, salmon-killing dams on the lower Snake River.
Meanwhile California authorities are just beginning to grapple with the issue as they plan a future with more renewable energy. Earthjustice attorneys are taking part in state planning efforts aimed at forcing the for-profit utilities to install technologies that can store renewable energy. As always, utilities chafe at being told how to operate, but as evidenced by recent developments with wind generators in the Columbia gorge, the need for energy storage is here and now.