New Study Proposes Storage and Demand Response to Limit Air Pollution

A new study proposes storage and demand response to avoid extra air pollution while meeting peak demand.

As shared by Greentech Media: We’ve heard about the value of energy storage for integrating renewables, shaving peak demand and regulating frequency, but there’s another service it can provide: combating air pollution.

When sited and deployed according to air quality data, energy storage can strategically replace more polluting energy services in the areas most susceptible to poor air quality, researchers at UC Berkeley and nonprofit research institute PSE Healthy Energy found. In this way, storage can address decades-old discrepancies in environmental justice, whereby poor neighborhoods have been more likely to sit near the dirtiest power plants.

This public health case for storage won’t displace the economic arguments for calculating the value of storage, but it could join them. The main obstacle will be convincing state regulatory bodies to price the negative externality of localized air pollution from energy production, which is a different beast than the more commonly recognized greenhouse gas emissions. Now may be the best time to pursue that, as states drastically overhaul the ways they assign value to distributed energy.

This study, published in the journal Energy Policy, joins a growing body of literature that aims to figure out how society should value new distributed energy resources like rooftop solar, wind, demand response and storage. The authors argue that the conventional approaches focus too much on immediate monetary value for the grid without looking at the bigger picture.

They home in on the local air-quality effects of energy production. Fossil fuel combustion releases a slew of deleterious substances into the air besides greenhouse gases. Ozone exposure has been connected to increased mortality from lung disease, and fine particulate matter is linked to higher rates of heart disease and asthma. Unlike greenhouse gases, the effects of these hazardous emissions are highly location- and time-specific, so remedies must be similarly sensitive.

The study suggests a framework for targeting both deployment and dispatch of distributed clean energy, namely storage and demand response, at the times and places where they could optimally avoid hazardous power plant emissions. Then they test the framework on data from California’s grid, with a particular focus on their peaker plants.The peaker plants California turns to for quickly meeting demand surges run on simple cycle gas turbines; they cost more and emit more per megawatt-hour than baseload gas plants there. They also disproportionately fire up on poor air quality days, compounding the air pollution. Continue reading from Greentech Media, here.

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