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Ultracapacitors in your daily life: Enabling renewable energy

Ultracapacitors in your daily life: Enabling renewable energy

| Dr. Kim McGrath, Director of Business Development

As energy demand and the drive to reduce global emissions increases, many countries are making a move to more renewable resources, like wind and solar power. However, there are a number of questions about the dependability of these alternatives.

Today, we can’t afford any downtime.

Renewable power sources, such as solar and wind, are inherently intermittent. Power generation is dependent on weather conditions and other factors beyond our control. The sun isn't always shining and the wind isn’t always blowing. Depending on the region, sometimes even milliseconds based power disruptions can have a tangible impact.

What’s going on behind the scenes? To compensate, utilities may increase their peak power reserves. While it sounds simple enough, this can be a costly process. Right now, grid operators are seeking more economically viable solutions. Energy storage systems based on technologies such as batteries or ultracapacitors become increasingly attractive as a flexible, cost-effective means to stabilize power output at the generation, transmission, and distribution grid.

Ultracapacitors address a number of issues renewable energy presents. For one, solar intermittencies tend to be short-lived. Utilities can use ultracapacitors to effectively smooth out the dips in power generation with only seconds worth of storage. The California Energy Commission, for example, installed an ultracapacitor system at the University of California San Diego (UCSD) to demonstrate solar power smoothing. With this system, power quality was improved 75 percent.

Across the pond, Ireland is also investing in energy storage options to help achieve its renewable energy goals by 2020. In Dublin, the Tallaght Smart Grid Testbed is deploying ultracapacitors to perform fast functions, such as frequency response.

The push toward renewable energy sources isn’t going anywhere. The industry needs a long-lasting energy storage option that will help to keep the lights on. Learn more about how ultracapacitors are transforming the grid today.

Wolfgang BeezDr. Kim McGrath
Director of Business Development
About this author

Dr. Kim McGrath is director of business development for Maxwell Technologies and has spent her career in the field of energy storage applications and technology development. She received her doctorate in chemistry from the University of Southern California and an MBA from The Paul Merage School of Business at the University of California, Irvine.

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