Thursday, August 10, 2006

Electrical energy storage for the home

Pumping power onto the grid from your basement: Discusses a new product that's meant to help shave off the peak energy demand on hot days.

The idea is to have a bank of batteries that are charged at night. This relies on time-of-use power metering (TOU) which charges the user different costs per kilowatt-hour depending on the current capacity on the power grid. Generally power demand is high during the day, and low at night. Under the principle of supply-demand economics it makes sense to charge more for electricity during the day (when demand is high) than is charged at night (when demand is low). So, essentially it's a power storage unit that does time shifting for electricity.

The product comes from Grid Point

They bill it as a kind of backup power supply. Generally this device keeps supplying power even if the power grid is shut down. The power grid can be shut down because it's overloaded due to the peak demand on hot days, or because a natural disaster has struck. As a backup power supply it's a heck of a lot cleaner than a diesel generator, because there's no exhaust.

One statement in the article stands out ...

Extremely high summer temperatures that tax the grid, such as those happening this summer in the U.S., are happening more frequently

Um, excuse me, but it is not the high temperature that taxes the grid. It's what people do because of the high temperature that's taxing the grid.

What typically happens because of the high temperatures is .. well .. people crank up the air conditioner, right? Is it the temperature that's causing the increase in electricity use? NO, it's the reaction of cranking up the air conditioner.

I discussed the effect here: Air Conditioning: "We're cooking our planet to refrigerate the diminishing part that's still habitable"

When we cool a building with an air conditioner, it's only making the problem worse. It's shifting heat outside, making the outside hotter. It's causing increased electricity use, making for more pollution and greenhouse gasses in the atmosphere.

There are alternatives. We have thousands of years of human experimentation with surviving hot weather that we can look to for alternatives. But with modern technology we're ignoring that history as if our ancestors were nothing but dumb ignorant savages. Sigh.