As California continues the transition to renewable energy, practical issues sometimes create unforeseen complications. One example: California requires that ALL residential buildings constructed after January 1, 2020 produce at least as much energy as they used. By 2030, all new nonresidential buildings must meet zero net energy requirements.
Additionally, the state is requiring that 50% of existing nonresidential buildings meet the zero net energy requirements by 2030, although some details obviously need to be worked out as far as deciding which 50% of those buildings must comply.
For most low-rise buildings, rooftop solar is tough to beat in terms of a cost benefit analysis. What about high-rise buildings which have limited roof square footage?
One option discussed in the past is developing photovoltaic (PV) panels that can also perform as glazing, replacing some of a building’s windows with translucent/transparent energy-generating panels. That option is rather costly and introduces a whole host of building envelope and electrical issues that only compound risk.
Grid-Scale Interim Solutions Needed
Producing enough power onsite for a single building or even a development is one thing, but California is committed to renewable energy at grid-scale. In addition to mandates related to building, the state has also committed to deriving 50% of all energy from renewable sources by 2030 [PDF].
A new hybrid jet turbine generator and battery storage system developed by General Electric (GE) might be a viable alternative for situations in which not enough space exists for PV. Inhabitat’s Lacy Cooke has more:
Grid-scale batteries could fill those supply gaps, but they’re still expensive and have not yet been widely deployed. Peakers, or turbinesburning natural gas, offered a flawed answer; they take several minutes to get going so operators had to run them at minimum load even when they weren’t needed, generating greenhouse gas emissions. GE’s hybrid system combines peakers and batteries for a more environmentally friendly option.
GE’s hybrid system is comprised of a 10 megawatt lithium-ion battery and their LM6000 gas turbine – “a nimble peaker with jet engine technology at its core.” When renewables aren’t generating as much power, the batteries in the hybrid system can take over while the turbine ramps up. The system could ensure as California transitions to renewables, people can reliably obtain electricity no matter the weather.
If you are interested in learning more, GE has additional information at their website.
Images courtesy GE