The Role of Energy Storage in Renewable Energy Generation Technologies Integration
Updated: Mar 15, 2021
Transforming our energy ecosystem is undoubtedly one of the key challenges of our times.
Record low prices for renewable energy technologies such as solar and wind energy, and the need to mitigate the impacts of energy use on the climate change have accelerated the transformation of our current fossil fuel based addictive energy system towards clean renewable energy technologies based energy system.
But there is a limit to how much renewable energy technologies our current energy system can integrate because of the energy storage problem. Because as we know, until very recently, almost none of that power could be stored. Therefore, in order to meet end users demand at the exact second they need it, that power has to be generated, sent over miles of wires, and all of that has to happen in a perfectly synchronized dance.
Renewable energy technologies are intermittent and need to be coupled with some of storage option for optimal exploitation of these resources. However, there are also other ways of integrating renewable energy technologies in our current energy system such as coordination between DSOs and TSOs, flexible power generation, flexible demand management.
According to Robert Armstrong, director of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Energy Initiative, inability to store large scale power puts limit on how much renewable energy we can practically integrate in our current energy system. Armstrong’s models suggest that without energy storage only about 10% of our power could come from solar.
Therefore, it is clear that large scale affordable energy storage is fundamental to the sustainable energy future. Out of all energy storage technologies, I foresee battery storage technologies playing critical role in the transformation of our energy system. Battery storage technologies have seen tremendous growth in the last decade. In 2010, batteries could power only our phones, computers and other portable electronics. But by the end of the decade, they have started powering our cars, houses, and power grids too.