- Oct 1, 2021 2:36 pm GMT
The share of renewable energy in our energy mix is constantly increasing, which is ultimately good for combatting climate change. However, as solar and wind availability fluctuates due to weather conditions, we need a solution for ensuring steady energy flow. Energy storage can realize this goal effectively. With this approach, surplus renewable energy can be stored and dispatched when needed. But is this solution currently implemented in the market today and how does it look like in the coming years?
In its “The Energy Storage Grand Challenge Energy Storage Market Report 2020”, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) forecasts a 27% compound annual growth rate (CAGR) for grid-related storage through to 2030. It also projects that grid-scale energy storage installations will increase annually from 10GWh in 2019 to almost 160 GWh in 2030 (Figure 1).
Figure 1: Stationary energy storage projections by sector
What are the major market drivers? The technology that utilities and grid operators choose will strongly depend on which one offers the best economic and operational capability according to the services, capacity range, and the energy discharge duration required. All these in turn depend on the grid design and distribution of generating plants and loads that are unique to each grid. Due to their variability, different energy systems are therefore suited for different situations. Let me give you four examples:
Li-Ion batteries are currently the technology of choice thanks to their cost-effectiveness and speed characteristics. They offer several applications, such as frequency response, flexibility enhancements of conventional power generation assets, black start capabilities and energy arbitrage. Their sweet spot reaches around 250 MW and 5 hours of duration.
Currently, pumped storage hydro, which is the most dominant energy storage solution in terms of globally installed megawatt capacity, represents about 93% of the operating system. As a gigawatt-scale technology mostly employed in energy shifting and high-capacity firming, it offers storage durations of days or weeks with minimal energy losses.
Supercapacitors and rotating grid stabilizers (i.e., flywheels and synchronous condensers) provide instantaneous system responses and grid control. Both technologies are aimed at applications within the range of approximately 1-100 MW.
Thermal energy storage (TES) can improve utilization of waste heat, assist in the electrification of process heat supply, or store renewable energy for re-electrification using a steam turbine. TES can also be integrated with thermal generation plants, e.g., a combined cycle plant.
The list goes on. Other types also worth mentioning are Liquid Air Energy Storage (LAES) or Compressed Air Energy Storage (CAES), which can be used for easy re-electrification. Both energy storage systems are essential buildings blocks for a new energy future. With these, not only do we have the technologies for building this future, but also the market rightly recognizes their relevance today.
Figure 2: Siemens Energy's Offerings in Energy Storage (copyright: Siemens Energy)
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