Catching Rays in California, and Storing Them

Solar power is growing so fast in California — with installations by customers increasing tenfold since 2006 — that it is turning the state’s power system upside down.

In a twist that is being closely watched by power companies around the country, California utilities will install massive banks of batteries and other devices to store the power surplus created by solar panels in the afternoon, when the sun’s rays are strong. The batteries are then to begin discharging power into California’s electric grid in the early evening, around sunset, when the solar generation of energy dies down but demand rises as millions of people get home and turn on air-conditioners, televisions and other electricity gobblers.

The new system is the opposite of an idea utilities have considered for years: Use batteries to store power at night from traditional sources, like natural gas and coal, and run them down in the peak heat of late afternoon.

Read full text at The New York Times