The amount of electricity generated from renewable energy sources varies depending on the availability of sun or wind.

Renewable energy graphic

As a result, sometimes consumer demand exceeds the amount of electricity renewables can generate. But at other times wind and solar produce extra power and that unused energy goes to waste.

The southeastern U.S. does not have as much renewable energy as other parts of the country. So as electric utilities in the region build more clean energy facilities, they’re also building energy storage systems to solve these problems.

While battery storage is an option, it’s still expensive. But Scott Segal, director of the Electric Reliability Coordinating Council, an industry lobbying group, says physical storage is an efficient alternative.

Segal: “Pump storage, I think, is a fascinating example. When I’m generating more power than I need, I use the additional power to pump water up a grade, or up a hill. And then when the renewable resource is not performing, I let that water come back down the hill which turns a turbine and continues to generate power.”

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By investing in energy storage systems, utility companies can accelerate the transition from a reliance on fossil fuels to clean energy like wind and solar.

Reporting credit: ChavoBart Digital Media/Jason Jackson.
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Bruce Lieberman

Bruce Lieberman, a long-time journalist, has covered climate change science, policy, and politics for nearly two decades. A newspaper reporter for 20 years, Bruce worked for The San Diego Union-Tribune...