Learn about the advantages and advancements of grid-scale battery energy storage, how it can support the transition to renewable energy, and its importance in managing energy supply and demand.
Grid-scale battery energy storage is a crucial technology for the transition towards renewable energy and accomplishing net zero emissions by 2050. This article will cover the current state of energy storage technologies, the advancements being made in grid-scale battery energy storage, the significance of this technology in managing energy supply and demand, and the policy actions required to facilitate its widespread adoption.
Current State of Energy Storage Technologies
The current state of energy storage technologies is an essential factor in the transition towards renewable energy. By storing surplus energy and releasing it when there is a shortage of electricity, battery storage systems help to balance electricity supply and demand on the power grid. The deployment of grid-scale battery energy storage is accelerating rapidly; according to BloombergNEF, global investment in battery energy storage reached almost USD 10 billion in 2021.
The most widely deployed storage technology is pumped-storage hydropower, which uses surplus electricity to pump water up a height, then releases it through a turbine to generate electricity when needed. Lithium iron phosphate (LFP) batteries are also commonly utilized for grid-scale storage due to their safety and reliability. LFP batteries have a longer lifespan than other types, making them ideal for grid-scale energy storage.
Other energy storage technologies, such as compressed air energy storage (CAES) and flow batteries, are being developed and tested but are still not widely used. CAES works by compressing air and then releasing it when needed to generate electricity. Flow batteries, on the other hand, operate by using two chemical components separated by a membrane. Unlike solid-state batteries, flow batteries have a design that allows decoupling of energy and power, which is ideal for long-duration storage applications.
To take full advantage of renewable energy and meet electricity demands, grid-scale battery energy storage needs to be deployed on a large scale. Investment in transmission and distribution infrastructure is critical to realize the full benefits of grid-scale battery storage. Lithium-ion batteries play a vital role in the development of electric vehicles and domestic energy storage systems, but we need larger batteries for grid-scale storage.
Advancements in Grid-Scale Battery Energy Storage
There have been several significant advancements in grid-scale battery energy storage technology in recent years, facilitating its more widespread deployment.
The UK’s first grid-scale battery energy storage system in Cowley, Oxford, is an excellent example of this technology’s advancements. This energy storage system features a 50MW lithium-ion battery connected to an 8km private wire network. The system is supported by a Pumped Heat Electrical Storage (PHES) system that uses crushed rock as a storage medium. The PHES system stores heat and cold in two separate reservoirs, allowing the system to maintain high round-trip efficiency while reducing the specific cost of storage materials. The expected round-trip efficiency of serial production systems is 55-60%. Furthermore, computerized control systems have become increasingly capable, allowing batteries to store and release power more precisely and efficiently.
Second-life batteries from electric vehicles could also be used in energy storage applications. They enable cost-effective electricity storage, while reducing environmental impacts by incentivizing recycling. Regulators and industry leaders must collaborate to develop a standard for second-life batteries to ensure a consistent and robust supply chain.
Offshore wind and solar power may destabilize the grid’s reliability due to their intermittent nature. Grid-scale energy storage systems offer a solution to this problem by storing electricity generated when the wind blows or sun shines and releasing it when needed. The integration of HVDC transmission systems can further enhance grid stability, enabling long-distance transmission of clean energy. Furthermore, the deployment of long-duration energy storage solutions, such as compressed air energy storage and mechanical gravity energy storage, can also increase grid stability and security of supply.
Importance of Grid-Scale Battery Energy Storage
Market regulators should include grid-scale energy storage and pumped-storage hydropower as an integral component of their long-term strategic energy plans. By doing this, governments can encourage renewable energy development and energy management, minimizing the need for transmission and distribution investment, and energy costs. For example, the UK government estimated that British battery storage systems could save the energy system up to £40 billion by 2050.
Grid-scale battery energy storage is critical for managing electricity demand and balancing the grid. By storing excess energy and releasing it when needed, this technology can reduce peak demand and help mitigate the need for expensive peak power plants and transmission infrastructure upgrades. Additionally, the grid management, particularly during peak demand, becomes more efficient with battery software performing energy integration.
Battery storage systems can play a crucial role in the transition to net-zero carbon emissions by 2050. Utilizing renewable energy sources such as wind power, solar power, and many more becomes possible with battery energy storage systems at large-scale through reliable, sustainable, and cost-effective energy storage.
Grid-scale battery energy storage is fundamental to the transition towards renewable energy and achieving net zero emissions by 2050. With advancements in battery technology like the PHES system in Cowley, the integration of second-life batteries from electric vehicles, and the deployment of long-duration energy storage solutions, we can ensure grid-scale energy storage’s widespread deployment. Investments in gridscale energy storage must be encouraged to meet future energy demands efficiently while promoting energy efficiency and grid management. The policy actions required to encourage grid-scale energy storage’s proliferation include incentivizing recycling, facilitating the deployment of HVDC transmission systems, and building regulatory barriers that favor the use of renewable energy sources. We should strive to power the future, one cell at a time.