By Rachel Dovey.
Clean energy storage is a billion-dollar problem — but Elon Musk aside, a number of technologists are eyeing existing infrastructure and wondering how it could, effectively, serve the function of a giant battery. Take the California utility proposal Next City reported on earlier this year. Because school buses operate on fixed schedules and sit idle during peak demand times, Pacific Gas and Electric Co. wants to study whether electric school buses can effectively store power from renewables, and then send that power back to the grid when necessary.
The Los Angeles Department of Water and Power has a much grander, Hoover Dam-sized version of that idea. In fact, it is the Hoover Dam.
The New York Times reports:
The [LADWP] … wants to equip [the dam] with a $3 billion pipeline and a pump station powered by solar and wind energy. The pump station, downstream, would help regulate the water flow through the dam’s generators, sending water back to the top to help manage electricity at times of peak demand.
The net result would be a kind of energy storage — performing much the same function as the giant lithium-ion batteries being developed to absorb and release power.
The plan has enormous potential but is still in its early stages, according to Utility Dive.