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Charging Ahead on the Future of Energy Storage

image credit: © Leowolfert | Dreamstime.com

This item is part of the Special Issue - 07/2020 - Energy Storage, click here for more

We are at a capacity level on our electric grids where we are generating enough power—and at times too much. The challenge of the modern grid is to enable our systems to better absorb generation. Often with energy storage, it is not about how much energy you have, but when and how you use it. Mastering new controls and optimization of energy storage will drive the energy future and bring greater system efficiency for everyone. Countries across the globe each bring their own lessons on the topic.

Scheduling Backup

Graciosa is an island country that leverages an integrated power system, powered by a sophisticated energy management software system, to achieve up to 65 percent renewable energy. The island has abundant renewable energy resources, and the smart system leverages machine learning to sharpen its forecasts based on historical data to maximize the resources when they are available. The island then schedules non-renewables and flexible resources around upcoming weather predictions. By maintaining a sharp focus on future renewable energy forecasts, the energy management system can optimize around them.

On a larger grid, system-level planning and controls take on a different form. In Germany on a windy day during COVID-19, the country found itself with too much energy generation on its grid. Data found that when Germany had to curtail renewables at home, instead of shutting the systems down, the country exported 14 gigawatts (GW) of extra renewable power generation to Norway. Norway was able to shut down other assets, mainly hydroelectric plants; add Germany’s renewable power to its flexible storage assets and distribute it across the country. The end result saw Germany pay €1m per hour to neighbors to take the energy away. 

Germany paid the price twice for poor system-level control. If they had anticipated the excess clean energy, they could have planned better and dispatched other reserves and loads based on that forecasting. If they had energy storage, they would not have had to ship energy at a cost, but instead deferred when they sold the power to sell at a profit.

Load Management

In another European country, power players are scheduling storage, not around renewable supply, but electricity demand. By 2040, forecasts show there will be a total of 36 million electric vehicle (EV) drivers in the U.K. Pivot Power, a company of electricity supplier EDF Renewables, is building two 50 MW / 50 MWh energy storage systems as part of a transmission-connected battery storage network to provide essential capacity for rapid EV charging. As the demand for electric vehicle-to-grid charging platforms increases, energy storage can help manage the influx of power needs on the grid while reducing carbon emissions.

Optimization through system controls maximizes the amount of energy on the grid. By making energy use and deployment more efficient, optimization offers a societal benefit by lowering the overall cost of energy for everyone. Increased coordination between digital controls and infrastructure will usher in energy storage that is truly powerful.

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Andy Tang's picture

Thank Andy for the Post!

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