A Note from California

With recent news surrounding climate change, particularly in the western United States; we have asked our local Director of Marketing for Energy Storage in North America to describe the matter and how he believes this will affect the future in terms of energy consumption and policy.

Chuck RAMES: “For some weeks now we have not left our home, because of unhealthy thick smoke from the unprecedented wildfires burning across California. But today is different. It is not just smoky, it is dark.  Even at noon, it is like twilight. Strangest of all, the sky is not gray. The sky is a dull, dark orange. In the midst of this crisis the electric utilities turn off the electricity to hundreds of thousands of customers.  They do this to prevent their transmission lines from falling and starting yet more wildfires.

While fire is a natural part of western ecosystems, the fires now spread with a speed and ferocity unknown in the past.  The fires now push clouds of ash into the stratosphere in “pyrocumulus” clouds, that spawn “fire tornados”. The predictions of extreme weather events in the climate change computer models now appear as the grim reality of our daily news.

And it is not just California. Last month in the American Midwest, a powerful group of thunderstorms generating “hurricanic force” flattened crops and trees and cut power to 400,000 in Iowa and Illinois. Weeks later, many are still without power, and the unfamiliar word “derecho”, enters the conversation about climate change. Hurricanes have cause exceptional damage this year, with Hurricane Sally alone cutting power to over 500,000.

I share this weather news not as a curiosity, but as a business question – how does a business keep priority loads energized, when power from the utility may be out for days, or even weeks?

Such news creates new urgency for the work of my colleagues who are beginning production of a new range of energy storage products, designed specifically to address such situations.  The concept is simple; manufacture a range of outdoor energy storage systems that can be paired with solar energy systems to deliver power, even when the grid is down. They must be available in a wide range of sizes, just like the businesses they are to serve. They must be safe, using the most modern Lithium Iron Phosphate batteries. They must be integrated with advanced artificial intelligence software, to maximize revenue for their owners when the grid is operating normally. The economic returns of on-grid operation will offset the cost, and in many cases the economic returns will pay for the system and more.

Such products do not, by themselves, solve the climate crisis. But they do help. Deployed in large numbers, energy storage systems enable an electric grid powered primarily by wind and solar energy. Energy storage not only enables a green electric grid, but it also enables the new green transportation system that the electrical grid must soon support.

As I write this, the governor of California is announcing that all new cars and trucks sold in California must be 100% electric, no later than 2035. Strengthening the grid to support all these new EVs will require over a million new battery energy storage systems, to compliment the million solar roofs already installed. I am proud of my colleagues, who are working to make our company a part of the solution.”