A week ago, Maxwell Technologies announced they had been “been awarded a $1.39 million contract by the California Energy Commission’s Research and Development program to fund design and integration of an ultracapacitor-based energy storage system with Soitec’s CPV system located on the campus of University of California, San Diego—one of the nation’s greenest universities— and a second commercial scale system at Soitec’s solar power plant in Southern California.” This project was to start immediately and run through November 2015.
I seized upon the opportunity to email Maxwell some questions about the future of energy storage. Shaw Lynds, the senior systems engineer at Maxwell, responded. Note that Mr Lynds says that while small micro-grid solar systems may soon be able to operate without a back-up system, it is still too expensive to develop an adequate energy storage system that would allow the grid to run 100% on solar energy. That is why they are focusing on ironing out “fluctuations of up to 5 minutes.” Yet it would seem almost inevitable that some year, in the not too distant future, solar energy will be able to supply all of our power needs.