In partnership with PLMA, this group is for practitioners from energy utilities, solution providers, and trade allies to share load management expertise and explore innovative approaches to program delivery, pricing constructs, and technology adoption.


Plan to Zero (#17) You got to know when to hold them…

Doug Houseman's picture
Visionary and innovator in the utility industry and grid modernization, Burns & McDonnell

I have a broad background in utilities and energy. I worked for Capgemini in the Energy Practice for more than 15 years. During that time I rose to the position of CTO of the 12,000 person...

  • Member since 2017
  • 270 items added with 98,530 views
  • Mar 16, 2023


Kenny Rogers was right; you do have to know when to hold electrons. But sometimes you also have to know when to convert them to something else, closer to the way the customer will use the energy. Batteries are expensive compared to hot water tanks, and if the goal is to use energy in the next 24 hours as heat or hot water, it may be far more economic to make hot water.

In the summer many would prefer to make ice out of water, to cool buildings when it gets to the hot part of the day, shifting the time of use for energy, but a lot of research is needed to develop high quality products (and ideally ones that can make hot water in the winter and ice in the summer). Thermal storage is one of the most cost-effective storage options available.

Making high pressure air at a factory that uses air tools, makes sense too. There are many energy products that make sense to create (yes, that means the electricity can’t be returned as electricity like from a battery).

Electric vehicles (EV) are being touted as the answer to all storage, except they are not always home, and the primary purpose of the vehicle is to go places and move people or stuff. Counting on EVs to provide for all storage needs, means that the primary purpose becomes energy storage, not transportation. Likely not a trade off many people can afford.

Society, based on current needs in California, now talks mostly about 4 hour storage, but the reality is that in a few years, with a majority system of solar photo voltaic (PV), that in the winter, PV will only provide enough energy to cover demand for 3-6 hours a day, meaning that storage will have to grow to 18-21 hours a day, with a much higher capacity to take charging than for discharging. Few are discussing these issues today, assuming they can import power from elsewhere.

There needs to be a focused conversation on storage durations. Frequency support only?
Evening grid support?
Day night shifting?
Winter night energy supply?
Polar Vortex energy?
Seasonal shifting?
Something else?
What is society willing to pay for, to allow more variable resources like solar and wind?



No discussions yet. Start a discussion below.

Doug Houseman's picture
Thank Doug for the Post!
Energy Central contributors share their experience and insights for the benefit of other Members (like you). Please show them your appreciation by leaving a comment, 'liking' this post, or following this Member.
More posts from this member

Get Published - Build a Following

The Energy Central Power Industry Network® is based on one core idea - power industry professionals helping each other and advancing the industry by sharing and learning from each other.

If you have an experience or insight to share or have learned something from a conference or seminar, your peers and colleagues on Energy Central want to hear about it. It's also easy to share a link to an article you've liked or an industry resource that you think would be helpful.

                 Learn more about posting on Energy Central »