Renewable Energy Battery Storage

Renewable Energy Battery Storage: Is It The Future?

Renewable energy battery storage is vital when it comes to reducing carbon emissions. Our imperative is to create a sustainable energy landscape. To do so requires the energy market and technology to move forward as one. Therefore, this renewable generation has to see the introduction of energy battery storage technologies.

Why is Renewable Energy Battery Storage So Important?

To create a sustainable society, we need renewable energy sources. We need to remove our need for problematic sources. Therefore, we should look to reduce our use of oil and natural gas and replace them with renewable energy.

However, the problem with the different types of renewable energy is that they don’t always have the ability to produce energy when we need it. So, wind energy, PV systems, and other forms of renewable energy might not meet energy demands. This is down to the fact that the creation of energy depends on certain environmental conditions.

Offshore wind farms and land wind farms create energy when it is windy. The sun helps to create solar energy via solar panels when the sun shines. Therefore, the challenge is to find a way to store renewable energy when we create it3. As a result, developments now allow us to store electricity using lithium-ion batteries. This allows the storage of renewable energy until we require it.

Battery Storage Adoption and Innovation

The importance of renewable energy battery storage is twofold. According to Ram Ramachander, the Chief Digital Officer & Chief Commercial Office for Social Innovation Business at Hitachi Europe:

“It serves a dual purpose. Firstly, it facilitates the integration of intermittent renewable energy sources, whilst simultaneously opening the door to generating income for prosumers. The dual purpose of battery storage is driving mass-market adoption of residential storage beyond 2020. By 2025, we can expect residential storage to be an integrated and essential component of all renewable energy projects."

It looks as though we will store energy in the future using individual energy storage systems. Homes and businesses are likely to increase their use of renewable energy. Therefore, they will also adopt renewable energy battery storage systems1.

It is important that renewable energy battery storage is developed. If we are going to make the switch, then we have to store energy when we make it. This will allow us to use it when we need it.

Where is Battery Storage Right Now?

Currently,  the fall in the cost of lithium-ion battery production continues. Elon Musk of Tesla believes that to cost will fall to $100/KWh by 2020. This is a drop from $1,000 which we saw in 2010. The cost is currently around $200 with projections indicating that by 2030, the cost could be as low as $50. With the drop in price, it means that renewable energy systems will become more competitive.

Government policy can influence the demand for battery storage. This can then lead to an increase in production and eventually a decrease in prices. In the USA, a number of states have storage mandates and regulations. This includes states such as California5, Hawaii, New Jersey, and Oregon.

Between 2017 and 2020, the expectation is that the consumption of lithium will increase by 42%. This will be driven by an increase in the production of batteries. For example, Tesla has made a commitment to assist with the transition to sustainable energy. It will achieve this by offering affordable electric vehicles and energy products.

Currently, there are over 150,000 megawatts of storage systems around the world. While this is a significant figure, it is a figure that is going to need to grow considerably. The International Energy Agency forecasts that renewable energy will meet almost 30% of our power needs by 2023.

The Future of Storage Batteries?

Storage capacity has to increase, there is no doubt about it. When stored, we can feed it back to the electric grid or use it for ourselves. Whatever it might be, we need renewable energy battery storage. The cost will decrease as production increases and this brings hope. The hope is that the future of clean energy generation is one that relies on storage batteries and clean power generation.

However, there are some concerns about the cost. The lithium reserves will be able to keep up with the demand for the time being2. Despite this, there will be a need for more mines and the need to mine for another metal - cobalt. Currently, more than 40% of mined cobalt is used on the lithium-ion battery market. This will ultimately mean that we will have to escalate production and that could increase costs.

Of course, the need to increase mines will have an environmental impact. It will mean that we will need to alter the landscape, disturb habitats and use the correct machinery to carry out the work. As a result, this is more than likely to have an impact on global Co2 emissions.

The Benefits of Renewable Energy Battery Storage

Environmental

Having the ability to store electricity will help to improve the efficiency of power grids. It also increases the speed at which we adopt renewable energy.

Energy storage systems can be put in any location. Once installed they have no emissions. Therefore, there is no impact on the environment or air quality. What’s more, if we combine it with solar power, the power will be greenhouse gas-free.

Reduction in Charges

In some instances, commercial and industrial facilities face a demand charge on their energy use. This does depend on the location. In some instances, it can make up as much as 50% of the total energy bill. Therefore, using energy storage systems and intelligent software, it is possible to reduce the charges.

The storage systems also make it possible to reduce the use of electricity during periods of high charges. If charges are higher during the day, then we can use the energy that we store in the system. It is then possible to revert back to electricity from the grid at times where prices are lower.

Taking Advantage of Peak Production

Occasionally, the wind doesn’t always blow and the sun doesn’t always shine. This can have an impact on the production of energy. However, we need the ability to store excess energy when the conditions are right4. This can help to cover those less productive periods. This will allow domestic and commercial users to use energy when they need it. Therefore, it won't just be a case of relying on using what we produce in real-time.

Energy Resilience

If we rely on renewable energy, then we need to be able to use it in times of an emergency. We can store the electricity we generate from renewable sources. It is then possible to call on that when systems fail or conditions are not right.

Historically, both commercial and industrial facilities have made use of backup systems. Therefore, if we are going to make the switch, we need to be able to make use of energy in times of need. It is not just about emergencies but also about reliability and availability.

Low Emission Hybrid Renewable Battery Storage
Innovators developing large-scale renewable energy batteries are moving storage forward. We've pictured the world's first low-emission hybrid battery storage. This system stores 10MW providing 24/7 availability. SCE Norwalk Peaker Plant, CA, USA. Photo Credit University of Southern California via Wikimedia  CC BY 4.0.

There is a Growing Interest

Whether we harness the energy from solar PV or the wind, interest is growing. Storage technology is changing, adapting, and evolving. This has meant that utilities are showing a real interest.

According to the 2018 Strategic Directions: Electric Report Survey, over half of the respondents are using energy storage systems6. We can also see that 16% are developing energy storage pilot programs. Impressively, 12% already have a program in place that allows them to store energy. So, it is clear to see that interest is growing and businesses can now identify the benefits.

Costs Are Starting to Reduce

Enthusiasm is growing as the costs continue to reduce. The electric vehicle industry is driving battery cell production. This means that we have seen improvements in technology. As the cost is dropping, it has meant that we now see lithium-ion battery use on a wider scale. One example of this is in Southern Australia. Here we can now see large solar farms along with battery facilities to store the energy.

Where is it Going?

At the moment, we could consider that energy storage is where solar was around ten years ago. Battery technology moves forward all the time. Startups are coming up with new ideas which in turn drive production. However, the industry still lacks standards. The data and a lack of information still hold it back.

The challenges that developers face are being overcome. Therefore, renewable energy battery storage is in a period of growth. Engineers are now able to develop storage systems that are the correct size. Improvements mean they can now cope with storage demands.

Along with this, we can see that there has been a reduction in costs. This now enables utilities and businesses to see it as a potential possibility. Domestic customers will follow in turn. As competition increases, with it will come regulatory controls and even further price decreases. This will then pave the way for widespread adoption.

Renewable Energy from Wind Turbines at Sunset
1M. Bragard, N. Soltau, S. Thomas and R. W. De Doncker, "The Balance of Renewable Sources and User Demands in Grids: Power Electronics for Modular Battery Energy Storage Systems," in IEEE Transactions on Power Electronics, vol. 25, no. 12, pp. 3049-3056, Dec. 2010. doi: 10.1109/TPEL.2010.2085455
2Green energy storage materials: Nanostructured TiO2 and Sn-based anodes for lithium-ion batteries. Da Deng, Min Gyu Kim, Jim Yang Lee and Jaephil Cho. aDepartment of Chemical & Biomolecular Engineering, Faculty of Engineering, National University of Singapore
3Nirmal-Kumar C. Nair, Niraj Garimella, Battery energy storage systems: Assessment for small-scale renewable energy integration, Energy and Buildings, Volume 42, Issue 11, 2010, Pages 2124-2130, ISSN 0378-7788, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.enbuild.2010.07.002.
4Francisco Díaz-González, Andreas Sumper, Oriol Gomis-Bellmunt, Roberto Villafáfila-Robles, A review of energy storage technologies for wind power applications, Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews, Volume 16, Issue 4, 2012, Pages 2154-2171, ISSN 1364-0321, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.rser.2012.01.029.
5California's 2030 Climate Committment. California Air Resources Board.
6Strategic Directions Electric Report. Black & Veatch, 2018
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