Why can’t we use batteries to store energy from solar and serve our load at night?
This concept works in theory. However, it’s the scale and cost of such a system that is the barrier to this solution. While solar can be stored and delivered at night, to get enough solar energy production to serve our load throughout the year, it would require at least 870 MW of solar capacity, which would require an investment equivalent to about $1 billion. These panels would also take up about 7,000 acres of land.
To store and deliver all that energy, Muscatine would need about 2,000 MWH of battery storage. This would require an additional investment of about $500 million and take up another 40-50 acres of land. In addition, these batteries would need to be replaced every 6-10 years. Not only would that cost be a tremendous burden on our ratepayers, disposal of that battery material would be a significant environmental concern.
These costs would drive up rates significantly. Initial estimates show that rates would roughly double under such a scenario. That’s probably on the low end. The solar and battery capacities assumed above wouldn’t provide any redundancy, so additional costs would be required to provide that redundancy.