INSIGHT-California aims to "bottle sunlight" in energy storage push

Mon Aug 12, 2013 2:59am EDT
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* State proposes target for 1.3 gigawatts of storage

* GE, LG Chem among companies entering growing market

* Utility ratepayers on hook for cost, but grid to benefit

* Silicon Valley venture capital also behind push

By Braden Reddall and Nichola Groom

SAN FRANCISCO/LOS ANGELES, Aug 12 (Reuters) - California, whose green ambitions helped the solar and wind industries take root, is taking an essential next step by proposing a sharp rise in energy storage to better integrate renewable power with the rest of the grid.

Power from sun and wind fluctuates dramatically, so capturing it for later use makes the supply more predictable.

"We can't just rely on sunlight," Governor Jerry Brown told the Intersolar conference in San Francisco last month. "We've got to bottle the sunlight."

California's storage push comes as renewables move toward a mandated one-third of the state's electricity supply by 2020. The proposal has fired up a technology race that has already attracted venture capitalists Peter Thiel and Vinod Khosla, large-scale battery makers such as LG Chem, and establishment forces like General Electric Co and Microsoft Corp founder Bill Gates.   Continued...