A durable electrical grid is essential to power everyday life. Even in times of peak demand, individuals expect energy to flow into their homes, businesses and devices by flipping a switch or plugging into an outlet. This need is even greater in times of extreme weather, something that is becoming more common year after year. As demands on the electric grid continue to grow, energy storage will play an important part in keeping the grid reliable, flexible and resilient.
One of the main ways energy storage enhances grid flexibility is by regulating the amount of power that goes into it. During periods of low demand, storage acts as a reservoir for surplus energy so that power generated from wind, solar and other clean energy sources doesn’t go unused. And in periods of high demand, energy storage can deploy reserve energy into the grid, so communities get the power they need.
“The load-shifting capabilities of energy storage help manage sudden spikes in demand during heatwaves or cold snaps, reduce strain on the grid, and balance supply and demand,” says Natalie Labrador, Invenergy’s senior manager, storage strategy.
Spikes in weather-related energy demand have increased in recent years, which has made the need for a resilient electric grid even greater. In June and July, Phoenix residents endured 31 consecutive days of 110 degrees Fahrenheit-plus weather.1 A polar vortex in Chicago at the end of 2022 resulted in a windchill factor around -40 degrees Fahrenheit in some areas.2 And Texas has continued to set statewide records for its extreme cold and heat in recent years.
These weather events demonstrate another of energy storage’s advantages: reducing energy price volatility. Extreme temperatures result in increased demand for heating and cooling. Energy storage can quickly respond to these spikes in demand, deploying additional power when demand is surging to help meet a community’s needs and preserve stable energy prices.
“During these extreme events, most people aren’t thinking about what the price of power is at the moment,” says Nick Ukestad, senior manager, energy trading systems, at Invenergy. “They’re going to have their air conditioning or heat on at full blast, and energy storage helps keep the cost of that energy reasonable and affordable.”
Energy storage is a versatile tool because it complements fuel sources across the clean energy spectrum. Whether it’s bridging the transition from daytime solar energy production to wind energy at night or giving natural gas plants time to reach peak production, storage is an important piece of the clean energy future and of a reliable, flexible and resilient power grid.
These benefits can particularly be seen in New York, a leader in energy storage adoption in the United States. The state’s plan to build out 6 gigawatts of energy storage capacity by 2030 is projected to result in up to $1.94 billion in net societal benefits, including energy cost savings for consumers.3
“Ultimately, energy storage benefits consumers like you and me,” says Ukestad. “It helps keeps our lights on, our air conditioning running and power prices low.”
Embracing additional energy storage capacity will go a long way toward strengthening the grid and enabling a clean energy future.
"By incorporating more energy storage into the electric grid, utilities and operators can better manage the challenges posed by extreme weather events, reduce the risk of power outages, improve grid stability and enhance its overall resilience," Labrador says.
1 “Phoenix ends 31-day streak of highs at or above 110 degrees — by reaching 108,” Aug. 1, 2023, NPR
2 “Powerful Arctic Front Brings Snow, Strong Winds, and Bitterly Cold Temperatures to the Region,” Dec. 28, 2022, National Weather Service
3 “New York’s 6 GW Energy Storage Roadmap: Policy Options for Continued Growth in Energy Storage,” Dec. 28, 2022, New York Department of Public Service