- Sep 21, 2021 11:22 pm GMT
As more countries pursue lower-carbon energy policies—including efforts to decarbonize the electric grid—energy storage will become increasingly important to achieving those goals. Ahead of addressing this critical topic at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Sept. 23 Long Duration Storage Shot Summit, there are a number of EPRI research areas worth reviewing now – on World Energy Storage Day.
Energy Storage and the Grid
Energy storage serves as a flexibility and resilience tool for grid planners, operators, and customers. Storage enables greater deployment of variable renewable resources, such as wind and solar. It also supports a range of grid planning and reliability objectives, such as shifting peak loads and providing important ancillary services for the bulk electricity system.
Lithium-ion batteries have improved in cost and performance in the past decade to serve multiple industries and to enable new applications in the transportation, electric, and building sectors for example. There is still a need, however, for new technologies to support the deployment of renewable energy.
“Energy storage is essential to increasing renewable and clean energy on the electric grid,” said Haresh Kamath, director of energy storage and distributed energy resources at EPRI. “As ambitious clean energy goals are adopted across the globe to accelerate decarbonization, energy storage has a critical role to play.”
New energy storage technologies will also be needed to help support the grid’s reliability and resilience, and to provide local solutions in remote or hard to access areas. Long duration storage, in particular, will be an essential enabler of a clean and resilient future.
Despite the many technological accomplishments, increased attention is needed in all areas of the energy storage RD&D.
Electric Vehicles and Batteries
EPRI has more than 30 years’ experience working with the electric power and transportation sectors to research, demonstrate, and deploy electric transportation technologies. A market transformation is underway and EVs are at a tipping point. Electric vehicle charging speeds are getting faster, there are more electric model choices both for private and commercial segments, and the network of public charging infrastructure is increasing. In addition, battery prices have fallen by more than 80% in the last decade, resulting in significant cost savings for vehicle purchase price and energy storage.
This transformation is expected to accelerate as more countries pursue decarbonization goals and policies, automakers pledge to electrify their fleets, and consumers have greater access to EVs. One forecast shows global EV sales increasing from 1.7 million in 2020 to 54 million by 2040—or more than half of all new cars built.
“Electric transportation is central to the carbon reduction and electrification discussion,” said Jamie Dunckley, senior project manager in electric transportation at EPRI. “Widespread EV adoption can promote a cleaner transportation sector, enable more efficient use of grid assets, and enhance grid operations. Plus, it's a win for the customer, who gets cheaper fuel and cleaner air with less maintenance.”
Nuclear Beyond Electricity
As energy needs evolve, EPRI’s Nuclear Beyond Electricity initiative is exploring uses for nuclear energy beyond baseload electricity. Applications such as hydrogen production for seasonal energy storage will require using large amounts of thermal and/or electrical energy more directly from the plant. The goal of this project is to provide guidance on the design details needed to add these loads to an existing nuclear power plant.
“Nuclear power plants are carbon-free, flexible generation assets with the potential to produce both electricity for the grid and hydrogen, which can serve as a seasonal energy storage solution,” said Heather Feldman, director of nuclear innovation R&D at EPRI. “This is one technology option envisioned as a part of the clean energy transition. EPRI’s R&D enables stakeholders to assess what is needed to transform a nuclear power plant to this flexible technology option.”
More Than Batteries: Large-Scale Energy Storage
Large-scale energy storage options are key to increasing the amount of variable renewable energy on the grid, while also reducing carbon emissions and maintaining the availability of reliable and flexible power. As these variable resources increase, energy storage needs will evolve beyond conventional batteries to larger scale and longer-duration assets. In addition, as rotating assets are replaced, new energy sources will be required to maintain system strength, stabilizing the grid and preventing uncontrollable upsets.
These needs will require new forms of energy storage that can support hundreds of megawatt hours and durations exceeding the one to four hours common today. Bulk energy storage will need to provide several days of energy, potentially even extending to seasonal storage.
"Investing in research and development to improve energy storage is critical to the energy transformation," said Jeffery Preece, EPRI senior program manager for advanced generation. "Innovations in long-duration energy storage will contribute to a grid that is both reliable and resilient. Our team is actively evaluating opportunities for deployment of thermal energy storage using liquid salt, sand, concrete, and crushed rock to capture and store heat from fossil generation units."
Together, EPRI and its partners are ready to shape the future of energy storage, and with it, the future of energy. Learn more about EPRI’s activities here.
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.