Utility-scale energy storage is frequently talked about because it is another form of renewable energy, although there is an urgent need and a trillion-dollar global market to stick to it. EnerVault in cooperation with Temporal Power have fresh, functioning, plugged-into-the-grid energy storage facilities and plans for more.
There are two simple applications for utility-scale energy storage — long duration and frequency fluctuation. Both will play an imperative role in the future of utility using energy storage growth, yet will have distinctive roles and markets.
Long-duration energy storage companies like EnerVault, which recently used a one megawatt-hour iron chromium flow battery storage facility near Turlock, California, which specializes in storing and delivering large amounts of energy.
Flow batteries have been around quite some time, but recently the technology advanced to the point where scientists started to see ample breakthroughs to where research projects could progress into VC-backed start-ups.
Majority is aware of the proficiency of lithium-ion batteries, but the materials used to make these batteries are costly. Mosso explained that there is a fundamental cost benefit in making use of abundant and inexpensive materials like iron and chromium in a flow battery, but there are also popular side reactions which have regulated its potential in the past.
EnerVault’s technology development has been fixed on justifying and retreating those side reactions normally linked with iron and chromium flow battery technologies to the point where Mosso deems that by 2016 EnerVault will be putting one-megawatt systems out into the field, by 2017 they will be multi-megawatt, four- to six-hour systems.
China will be one of the leading users of energy storage. IHS is projecting for China to have installed close to 7 gigawatts of energy storage by 2021. Even though most of the utility-scale energy projects are still 3 to 7 years away, there are micro grid projects in rural areas like prevalent Alaska, Australia, South America, Africa, and island grids, where linking energy storage with wind or solar is expenditure competitive right now with traditional means of power generation.
The major influence behind this ambition for utility-scale energy storage is best epitomized with solar power. The evidence that the sun shines on Earth every day means that devoid of some sort of energy storage, solar power will be awfully limited no matter how cheap it becomes.
Solar power’s issues with night can, however, be alleviated by technologies like flow batteries. Mosso explains that flow batteries are a natural fit for “time shifting,” or taking collected energy from renewable power outputs like solar or wind and storing that energy until it is needed later in the day.
As solar and wind energy prices begin to pass below traditional fossil fuels in price, having a way to cheaply store energy for multiple hours or even days is vital to creating greener, cheaper power grids.
Regardless of all the technological progress energy storage has made, there are still impediments ahead and there are alternatives of shifting the grid to account for both power fluctuation and time shifting.
Solution to the problem comes in three other ways, you can manage it with better transmission and a better grid, you can separate it with more distributed solar as opposed to centralized solar, and thirdly you can resolve it with better demand management. The innumerable answers to producing a more effective power grid for renewable energy are not “either/or” solutions. The best grids will be varied.