HIGH-CAPACITY BATTERIES AREN’T just making electric vehicles viable. They’re also beginning to transform water utilities.
In Southern California, a number of water utilities have begun to install large batteries alongside their pumping plants and water treatment facilities. The idea is to store energy in the batteries overnight, when energy is cheaper. Then during the daytime, when power is more expensive, a water agency can tap that battery power for its routine operations.
This saves water ratepayers money, because energy is often the most expensive component of treating and moving water. It also helps the regional electric grid meet demand during peak hours, because batteries effectively eliminate some of that demand. And it’s a large share of demand: Moving, treating and heating water account for nearly 20 percent of all energy consumed in the state, according to the California Energy Commission.
In the water sector, the Irvine Ranch Water District in Orange County has emerged as a pioneer in combining battery systems with its water distribution and wastewater treatment operations. Although other Southern California water agencies are installing batteries, Irvine Ranch was one of the first and largest adopters. It signed a deal with Advanced Microgrid Solutions to install Tesla batteries at 11 of its facilities, including wellheads and sewage treatment plants. The first battery installation went online in October, with more expected in the next few months.