Solar battery infrastructure, analysis with rising BISE – Spectrum Information 1

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MILWAUKEE – Wisconsin has a solar energy infrastructure that is growing. Now, the state is increasingly using battery technology to power homes with solar energy at night.

What you need to know

  • So far this year, We Energies has announced two large solar production and battery storage systems

  • The battery technology enables the use of solar energy at night or when the sun is not shining

  • UW researchers pioneering methods for technologies that generate and store solar energy at the same time

  • We Energies said that the emphasis on solar and other renewable energies will save money for interest payers

So far this year, We Energies has announced two massive solar projects, one with 200 megawatts (MW) of solar energy in Kenosha County and the other with 250 MW in Rock and Walworth counties. It is enough to supply 60 or 75,000 households with electricity. The projects also include storage capacity for solar batteries.

“They can generate electricity, but they can also store some of that excess generation in those big batteries,” said Brendan Conway, a spokesman for We Energies. “Then when the sun goes down, they can feed that energy into the grid to serve all of our customers.”

Brendan Conway looks at the We Energies solar plant in Brown Deer, WI.

185 MW of solar power will be stored in batteries between the two projects. It makes it possible to supply houses with solar energy when the sun is not shining.

“We can store what would otherwise be lost to generate electricity and then feed it into the grid at times when these wind and solar plants may not be producing electricity,” said Conway.

Song Jin, a chemistry professor from UW-Madison who studies solar energy and solar battery technology, was delighted with the projects.

“I was very excited to see this, I didn't know this was happening in Wisconsin,” said Jin. “I know all over the world that this is indeed an increasing trend.”

Jin's research team developed a method called Solar Flow Technology. They improved a method where the same device harvests and uses solar energy, but stores it at the same time. This would theoretically allow a user to be completely self-sufficient with electricity.

“I think this could be even more relevant, especially for people in remote areas,” said Jin.

This technology is still a few years old, but Jin said that homes and buildings that are off-grid don't need power lines that are extended to where they are supposed to be powered by electricity.

Jin said that solar battery storage, such as our design, has expanded globally in recent years. He is encouraged to see Wisconsin – a state without equal access to the sun as the southern part of the country – begin storing solar energy.

“It actually means that the Solar Plus storage is mature, it is actually already taking off,” said Jin.

Storing solar energy can add to the overall reliability of the electricity, Jin said. After a cold snap that left millions of people in Texas without power for days, diversified power sources provide more assurance that lights will stay on.

“Those I think of will likely give you the most robust response and flexibility when you have the kind of crisis you see [in Texas]”Said Jin.

According to Conway, We Energies has been working on renewable energies for years and has been reducing CO2 emissions by 50% since 2005. They aim to be net carbon neutral in power generation by 2050, and the renewable energy economic environment could help them get there.

We energies solar panels

“The prices of solar energy, and now batteries, have just come down in the last five to ten years,” said Conway. “Now it's more economically available for companies like us to do.”

We Energies announced the closure of two fossil fuel plants in autumn. The company also plans to invest $ 2 billion in new renewable energy by 2025. The two solar battery systems announced this year are part of this initiative.

Ultimately, Conway said this will save interest payers a billion dollars over the next 20 years. According to We Energies, the investment in renewable energies is not yet complete.


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