Reduce Costs, Energy Storage Technology Applications Need More Innovation And Investment

- Aug 22, 2018-

Reduce costs, energy storage technology applications need more innovation and investment


China Energy Storage Network: Imagine if most of the energy needs in the future are met by solar and wind energy. Then there will be severe power shortages at night or when there is insufficient wind. Unless the future power system becomes a huge "super power grid", a large number of power lines are connected all over the world. When the power in one place is insufficient, another place can be supplied immediately. With the advancement and development of emerging technologies, battery energy storage technology may revolutionize the way people produce and consume electricity.

Traditionally, battery energy storage systems have been considered too expensive and do not provide sufficient power for grid utilities and customers. However, this kind of economics is changing rapidly. As electric vehicles become the mainstream of the market, the world's major economies such as France, China and the United Kingdom are phasing out the use of gasoline and diesel vehicles, and the demand for lithium-ion batteries is booming. At the same time, in California, solar power now supplies nearly 5 million residential users, and grid-scale energy storage projects from local residential and utility operators are reducing energy costs.

A recent study published in Nature Energy noted that energy storage prices have fallen faster than solar or wind power. This study simulates the future of solar power, wind power and battery energy storage systems and shows how these systems compete with fossil fuel power plants on the grid. Public investment and private investment in research and development are critical to achieving this goal, but insufficient funding in the US federal budget proposal may be a serious impact on finding a low-cost solution to make the grid cleaner, not conducive to environmental protection and Public health.

Today in California, many residential homes are equipped with solar panels, and power plants connected to the grid do not have to produce too much power, and can save energy by turning off some conventional generators. However, once most people use electricity at night and solar power and wind power are insufficient, California's grid operators will face a dilemma: how to cope with the growing demand for electricity, thereby reducing grid power usage? Natural gas peak power plants are often required to provide backup power and maintain grid reliability to prevent possible power outages. However, natural gas power generation efficiency is lower than that produced by combined cycle gas turbines.

The current price of Tesla Powerwall batteries is about $350/kWh. For many customers, the price is still out of reach. However, the US Department of Energy set a target of $100/kWh battery storage by 2020. This is achievable. The study found that the price of lithium-ion batteries dropped from $10,000 per kWh to a few hundred dollars in the early 1990s, and the pace of innovation was impressive.

An example of battery energy storage is underestimating the potential of solar power generation. The installation of solar panels in the past decade has greatly exceeded expert forecasts. In order to make full use of electricity, people need to conduct investment research to reduce energy storage costs so that they can use solar energy or wind energy at any time.

The story of Tesla's use of lithium-ion batteries is not the only example. Berlin, Germany, plans to install a 120 MW flow battery energy storage system to support the development of wind and solar. California has developed the first "energy storage mission" policy of the US power grid, requiring utilities to purchase 1.325 GW of energy storage products by 2020, and has a variety of energy storage options, not limited to lithium-ion battery energy storage systems. . In the future, people may see that the distribution system will deploy a small flywheel to provide short-term power and, in combination with the flow battery, provide multiple hours of energy storage to power the office building or data center during peak demand periods.

Imagine if people can use solar and wind energy without having to consider whether there is a shortage of supplies, then it is possible to completely eliminate fossil fuel power plants. This provides a low-carbon power option that is more environmentally friendly than coal or natural gas, and uses a battery-storage system that can be controlled on demand while responding in seconds.

But this is easier said than done. Why not use an energy storage system? As research has shown, this choice needs to be financially viable, and people need to innovate and invest in deploying and transforming low-carbon technologies.