Energy consumption is on the rise everywhere. And as the speed of IT innovation continues to increase, experts say we will soon need to get very creative in order to adequately power the future.
Instead of simply looking at ways to generate more power, however, it may be beneficial to think about how more effective storage systems could help us meet the next generation’s energy needs.
That is why a few enterprising companies are now looking to create energy storage systems that are as versatile as the needs of their users. And, along with a pioneering island community in Canada, Samsung C&T’s Trading and Investment Group is starting to help implement test versions of such projects in real-life situations. If successful, the company will look to implement these elsewhere in the world.
It is a quest that may help an island community spearhead the first stage of Canada’s renewable energy revolution – and perhaps even end up leading it.
Prince Edward Island, off the east coast of the Canadian mainland, consists of the eponymous main island and some 230 smaller islets. Residents here have depended for many years on costly, non-renewable diesel fuel generated on the mainland for the lion’s share of their power needs.
Like their fellow, mainland-based Canadians, however, they too dream of a sustainable, cleaner future. Public and private bodies are launching their own innovative solar energy projects, including an elementary school, a city hall and a sewage plant – further evidence that the province’s residents are banking on the future of renewable power.
But the problem of storage remains in the province. Islanders have realized that tackling it will require a hybrid approach. They need the ability to make use of traditional diesel-generated power, as well as newer, green sources of energy. By teaming up with Samsung C&T, however, that dream is starting to take shape.
Summerside, the province’s second city, has recently announced that it will embark on an ambitious smart energy storage testbed project. This initiative will blend renewable power operations with traditional power resources, providing a cost-effective means of storing and distributing energy.
Storing energy is relatively easy for small-scale energy-generating operations. For example, if you have roof-mounted panels at home, it is relatively easy to use standard car batteries to store power for days, or even weeks. When you are talking about the large amount of electricity needed to power a grid or industrial facilities, however, the venture becomes much more challenging.
That is why innovation has been so important in the Summerside project. Its new initiative will include a groundbreaking new 495kW solar farm at the city’s Credit Union Place. But its unique centerpiece will be a massive battery network, one that is capable of storing and distributing 890kWh of energy from multiple sources. These sources include not only the energy generated onsite, but also green power generated elsewhere – as well as heavy fuel oil, water, diesel and coal power imported from the mainland.
The move will let Summerside remove the need for diesel generator backup, so essential for so long in the city. The scheme also means that Summerside can now use clean energy in its building operations, and ensure that green electricity is consumed locally.
Energy prices fluctuate a lot, even during the course of a single day. For instance, solar power prices may fall on sunny days, and rise during spells of cloudy weather. Prices are also time-sensitive. If you use energy during peak times, you will probably pay more for it. If your city buys off-peak energy and stores it, however, residents end up paying less for power – as do local authorities. City officials say they will save some US$47,000 in annual costs with the new storage system in place.
What is more, the smart storage project will let Summerside cut its greenhouse gas emissions by a whopping 700 tons per year.
Samsung C&T will help manage the project, conducting construction management and supplying equipment, in conjunction with city authorities. Work on the system is slated to begin this month, and the facility could become operational as early as September this year.
Smart energy storage facilities will help communities like Summerside transition away from dependence on fossil fuel power, instead allowing them to store power generated from any source they like – including solar panels and wind farms.
“This project helps us take the next step in our important growth in the innovation sector,” explains Summerside Mayor Bill Martin.
For Samsung C&T, meanwhile, the Summerside system represents a major coup in its ever-expanding energy operations. Steve Cho, President of Samsung Renewable Energy, says, “The project will open up new opportunities for both Summerside and Samsung to discover ways to integrate the system into the community’s infrastructure – and to ultimately embark on a new, Canada-wide era of smart energy storage.”
Summerside and Samsung C&T both hope the smart storage project will demonstrate to suppliers and municipalities that technological advances like these can prove the value of reducing costs and thinking outside the box when it comes to energy storage – for both traditional and renewable sources of power.
Although renewable power initiatives still have a long way to go, encouraging progress is now being made to eliminate the storage-related teething problems that have beset them for so long.
Plenty of progress still needs to be made before green energy can truly hope to oust carbon-fueled power. But vital first steps are now being taken. And as hybrid, multi-purpose storage initiatives in places like Prince Edward Island are proving, the scope for clean energy-led innovation is becoming broader by the day.