Carlsbad talks energy storage

CARLSBAD — Energy storage is a growing industry and technology is advancing to make those systems more efficient for consumers.

On Dec. 12, the Carlsbad City Council heard a report from Assistant City Manager Jason Haber about the possibilities of energy storage, especially from renewable sources, as requested by Councilwoman Cori Schumacher. The first-term councilwoman is a proponent of clean energy and technology, making those issues some of her top priorities during her 2016 campaign.

“Every time global supply of battery storage doubles, market prices globally drop by 10 percent,” Schumacher said. “The impotence for this really came from my interest in clean tech and looking at the Encina Power Plant property and the changing dynamics of that property. This has just potential.”

As for the desalination plant, two concerns were the production of greenhouse gases and cost of the water, Schumacher said. She said this plan could eliminate the greenhouse gas use of the plant and lower the cost of producing the water.

On Aug. 11, Schumacher and Councilman Keith Blackburn met with a representative from Tesla, the electric car manufacturer owned by Elon Musk, to discuss the regulatory and market issues affecting development models to deploy “grid-connected utility-scale” storage facilities, according to the staff report.

Although there are no specific opportunities, Haber said the city remains open to a potential public-private partnership, noting the city has many large-scale municipal, commercial and industrial facilities.

Schumacher also met with SDG&E on Sept. 11 to discuss existing storage systems and opportunities for such systems in Carlsbad.

Mayor Matt Hall said working with Tesla would be beneficial since their model “seems” to be the way of the future.

SDG&E Public Affairs Manager Jennifer Ramp said at the Dec. 12 meeting the energy landscape is transforming and the utility is moving away from coal and no longer uses nuclear power. Additionally, SDG&E’s greenhouse gas emissions have been reduced by 30 percent since transitioning away from older technology.

Also, 43 percent of its energy is produced by wind and solar energy, Ramp said. Not accounted for, she added, are the 112,000 rooftop solar panels installed on homes.

“It’s a much more challenging grid,” Ramp said. “We will be at 49 percent in 2021. When you compare that mix to California’s 29 percent and the nation’s 9 percent, we really are a leader in clean energy.”

The storage systems use chemical, mechanical or thermal processes to store energy for use at a later time. The energy is generated from renewable, mechanical (such as pumped hydroelectric power) or fossil fuel sources.

The value, Haber said, is applied in various forms such as peak usage shaving emergency backup and allows deferring or avoiding of large investments to infrastructure.

A state law, passed in 2013, requires California’s three investor-owned utilities — SDG&E, Southern California Edison and Pacific Gas & Electric — to install 1,325 megawatts of energy storage by 2024. SDG&E is currently at 60 percent of its 165 MW target.

SDG&E is undergoing site assessments throughout its coverage area including Carlsbad.

Haber said some of the partners within the city could be the new City Hall, Carlsbad Unified School District and utility facilities, to name a few.

The Carlsbad Safety Center is a site for a potential grant through the California Energy Commission Advanced Microgrid Demonstration program.

Carlsbad is also working with the cities of Del Mar, Encinitas and Oceanside to prepare a Community Choice Energy Technical Feasibility Study. The four cities are finalizing a cost-share agreement and engaging a consultant to initiate the study, according to the report. The report is expected to take six to nine months to complete.

“One of the key elements of that is portfolio scenario analysis and that looks at a variety of procurement strategies for servicing a CCE,” Haber said. “That basically impacts the energy mix you’d be providing and the rates you’d be offering.”

The state passed legislation requiring 50 percent of energy generation to come from renewable sources by 2030.

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