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Large Energy Storage Project Would Create New Reservoir Above Isabella Lake

A $3 billion pumped-water energy storage project has been proposed along Isabella Lake that would help even out power delivery from California solar and wind farms at a volume and longevity dwarfing the large battery installations envisioned for eastern Kern.

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission is reviewing a Walnut engineering company’s plan to create a new reservoir above the lake then use pumps and underground pipes to turn it into a rechargeable dam and hydroelectric generator putting out a whopping 2,000 megawatts of power for up to 12 hours at a time.

Opinion: California Needs to Accelerate Efforts to Achieve Clean Energy Goals

As our state has suffered through a summer of record-breaking heat waves, blackouts and wildfires, Gov. Gavin Newsom has rightly pegged what’s principally behind these challenges: “If you are in denial about climate change,” he said recently, “come to California.”

DOE Study: Solar-Hydro Projects Could Power 40% of World

Linking floating solar panels with hydropower could produce the equivalent of 40% of the world’s electricity, according to a new study by researchers at the Department of Energy.

Published this week by a team at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, the study provides the first global look by federal researchers at the technical potential of the hybrid concept.

The research found that by constructing solar panels on the surface of hydro reservoirs and feeding the power they generate into the same substation, both energy resources might become cheaper, more efficient and more reliable.

Long-Duration Energy Storage Makes Progress but Regulation Lags Technology

If you were building an electrical grid from scratch (with no regard to regulations or finance), then long-duration energy storage would be a requisite. It just makes sense — store energy when it’s cheap and/or abundant, and discharge when the price is high, or the energy is needed by the grid. Use it to load-shift, peak-shift and smooth; to replace fossil-fuel-fired peaker plants; and to integrate intermittent renewable resources onto the grid.

Long-duration storage fits in with what utilities, independent system operators, and regional transmission operators understand. “Most utilities seem to want much longer-duration storage systems, with 6 to 12 hours discharge, to do serious load-shaping over the day,” suggests an analyst at a U.S. energy think tank. Some of these expectations are being driven by the performance of pumped hydro, once the only source of grid-connected storage.

Economically viable long-duration energy storage could accelerate solar and wind penetration, grid resiliency, and serve to stabilize volatile energy prices. But, long-duration energy storage will not become pervasive until regulators adapt to the capabilities of the technology.

Senate Energy Chair Pulls San Diego Hydropower Bill

SACRAMENTO — State Senate energy committee chair Ben Hueso said Thursday he will drop
legislation that would have boosted a hydropower project near his San Diego district.

Hueso told supporters of the project Wednesday night that he, the city of San Diego and the San
Diego County Water Authority, agreed to table CA SB597 (19R), according to an email Hueso’s
office provided to POLITICO.

Coupling Pumped Hydro With Renewables and Other Storage Technologies

The combination of pumped hydro with other storage technologies can increase renewables penetration, improve operational safety and reduce maintenance costs at large-scale hydropower plants, according to new research. The study also focuses on techniques to determine the optimal size of renewables-based pumped hydro storage systems.

Pumped hydro is highly cost competitive as a large-scale energy storage solution, according to a recent report by the San Diego County Water Authority. The higher capital costs of pumped storage technology versus battery storage are outweighed by the longer lifetime of pumped storage, which gives it a lower levelized cost, the authority said.

Opinion: The Promise of Small Hydropower and Holistic Renewable Energy Grid

At present, solar and wind energy are highly promoted as renewable energy technologies — clean technologies in terms of their carbon footprint. However, the most prominent renewable energy source for generating electricity is hydropower. The history of hydropower for generating electricity in the U.S. goes back to late 19th century.

In Quest for Bigger Batteries, California Mulls Century-Old Idea

As the sun sets on California’s solar farms, a backup energy source deep in the Sierra Nevada Mountains springs to life. The huge system of reservoirs and turbines can store energy during the day and then crank out electricity for 900,000 homes, using just water and gravity.

As the state tries to make wind and solar work around the clock, officials want to build more like it. It won’t be easy: such projects take years to develop, are expensive and face stiff opposition.he push by California and other states to revive the century-old technology — called “pumped-hydro storage” — underscores the limitations of modern batteries.

Pumped Hydro 2 - SanV-WaterAuthority-May 2019

Water Authority Supports Bill to Spur Pumped Storage Projects

A bill that the San Diego County Water Authority’s Board of Directors voted to support in March is scheduled for a hearing Thursday in the state Senate Appropriations Committee. The proposed state legislation promotes the development of pumped hydroelectric storage projects to help meet state energy and climate goals.

Senate Bill 772 by Sen. Steven Bradford of Gardena promotes the development of pumped hydroelectric storage projects to help meet state energy and climate goals.

The Board’s support for the legislation followed the March release of a research paper from a team led by UC San Diego Professor David G. Victor that emphasizes the benefits of expanding pumped hydro energy storage as a cost-effective way to help California meet its renewable energy goals and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Read the Pumped Energy Storage report here.

The Water Authority and the City of San Diego are exploring a potential pumped storage energy project at the San Vicente Reservoir that could store 4,000 megawatt-hours per day of energy, or 500 megawatts of capacity for eight hours.

Energy generated by renewable sources, like wind and solar, can be captured by energy storage facilities and then distributed then needed. Batteries and pumped energy storage will provide the needed energy storage for both short-term needs (batteries, less than 4 hours) and long-duration needs (pumped energy storage, 8 hours or more).

Large-scale, long-duration renewable energy source

A key to the San Vicente concept and others is development of statewide institutional and regulatory support for large-scale, long duration energy storage lasting up to eight hours. Pumped storage projects store solar and wind power during low-demand periods for use during high-demand periods, such as evenings when people are cooking, washing clothes and running air conditioners.

The State Energy Resources Conservation and Development Commission has identified bulk energy storage – including pumped hydroelectric storage – as a core strategy for integrating renewable energy resources into the California electrical grid and reducing greenhouse gases.

In addition, the white paper stresses the need for new state policies that will ensure that pumped energy storage projects enter commercial operations when they will be critically needed.

“To be consistent with California’s energy vision, active new policy support is needed to facilitate the development of pumped energy storage,” according to Victor’s paper. “Those policies should recognize the long lead times in building pumped energy storage projects (5 to 10 years). New policy efforts must begin now.

“Among the needed actions are state-backed support for some early projects that would jump start investment in this proven technology. This support can demonstrate viable business models and investment strategies that will pave the way for more private sector-led projects in the future.”

Providing ratepayer benefits

Pumped energy storage projects work like giant batteries by storing excess renewable energy during the day, when renewable power production peaks. Energy is released from the “battery” in the evening, when energy use increases, and renewable energy is not available.

Keeping the electrical grid reliable requires not only short-term energy storage, but long-duration, large-scale storage.

“Many expert studies have been performed that demonstrate the value of pumped energy storage, including CAISO’s Bulk Energy Storage Case Study, which found that a 500 megawatts (MW) pumped energy storage project in Southern California would provide ratepayers with a savings of up to $51M per year from improved efficiencies in system operation,” according to Victor’s white paper.

“Without significant new large-scale energy storage, California will likely be required to import more energy from other states, including potentially power generated with higher carbon emissions, such as coal,” the paper said. “The State will be unable to meet its renewable and climate goals reliably without large-scale energy storage.”

SB 772 is an attempt to address some of the issues identified by Victor and others. The legislation would require the California Independent System Operator, which runs the state’s power grid, to create a competitive bidding process by June 2022 to acquire a substantial quantity of long-duration energy storage – the type created by pumped hydroelectric storage.