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Texas-Sized Battery Savings // Africa's Solar Revolution // AI for Disaster Response

Welcome to Grid Brief! Here’s what we’re looking at today: batteries save money in Texas, solar meets Africa’s energy needs, and Google uses AI to respond to natural disasters.

Batteries Save Money, Power Grid in Texas

A study from Aurora Energy Research found that batteries saved consumers in Texas an estimated $683 million in real-time market costs during a two-day freeze in January. The Lone Star State’s batteries provided essential ancillary services which freed generation for other needs.

The study estimates that energy storage could reach 20 gigawatts by 2035, up from the 4 GW currently online. ERCOT may see this number reach 8.4 GW by year’s end.

Africa’s Decentralized Solar Revolution

Giant Solar Panel

In Africa some 43%—600 million people—of the continent’s population cannot light their homes or charge their phones. Decentralized renewable energy (DRE) systems—energy generated near the point of use, rather than by a centralized grid—may be one solution to this problem. In fact, 65% of new capacity in Africa over the past two years has come from large firms contracting with developers, rather than utilities.

According to The Economist DREs and solar home systems provide electricity to nearly 400 million Africans. Between 2016 and 2020, the use of DREs grew tenfold compared to the previous five years.

One DRE firm is Ignite, which has a line of products including basic solar panels, solar water pumps, and internet routers. Customers pay for the use of Ignite’s technology as they go via an app on their cell phones. The company claims that this saves consumers money and increases productivity for farmers and businesses.

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