Energy storage and a carbon-free grid system


Smart Energy International staff writer Nicholas Nhede examines the energy storage market and the role played by the technology in developing a net-zero emission or 100% renewable energy system.

Whilst energy storage enables grid operators to expand their renewable energy resources, and lower carbon emissions by changing their reliance on conventional energy resources, the technology is also playing a pivotal role in modernising grid networks and towards the introduction of new business cases.

This article was originally published in Smart Energy International 5-2019. Read the full digimag here or subscribe to receive a print copy here.

For instance, energy storage is granting stakeholders flexibility in generation, transmission, distribution and end-use. Consumers are now able to integrate or sell excess energy generated onsite onto the main grid to generate extra revenue as well as contribute to the resiliency of the main grid.

The deployment of utility-scale energy storage systems has allowed Italian multinational energy firm Enel to adopt new sustainability goals in line with standards promoted by the UN Global Compact, the Science Based Targets Initiative and the We Mean Business coalition.

Enel has set a goal to become net-zero by 2050, by investing up to €22.7 billion in renewable energy (which can only be expanded if there is enough capacity for storage), demand response and smart grid networks by 2021.

A new study recently published by the Global Footprint Network states that decarbonisation, which also can only be achieved by deploying renewables and technologies such as energy storage, can delay ‘Earth Overshoot Day’ by three weeks.

‘Earth Overshoot Day’ marks the day when human demand for food, fibre, timber, and carbon absorption exceeds the number of biological resources that earth’s ecosystems can renew in the whole year.

The date has moved up by a full two months over the last 20 years and this year’s (29 July) is the earliest date ever as we are currently using the planet’s resources 1.75 times faster than nature can renew.

Energy storage deployment

Whilst 2018 saw the largest growth on record for new energy storage capacity deployment, according to Navigant Research, the market is expected to accelerate more in the coming years. In the 2019 Energy Storage Tracker, released in September, Navigant has identified 2,092 new energy storage projects.

Ricardo F Rodriguez, a research analyst with Navigant, said: “Several new companies have entered the market across the energy storage value chain while legacy companies have sought to bolster their presence.” Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF) forecasts energy storage installations around the world to multiply exponentially, from a modest 9GW/17GWh deployed as of 2018 to 1,095GW/2,850GWh by 2040.

This 122-fold explosion of stationary energy storage will require $662 billion of investment and will be made possible by further sharp declines in the cost of lithium-ion batteries, on top of an 85% reduction in the 2010-18 period.

Logan Goldie-Scot, head of energy storage at BNEF, said: “In the near term, renewables plus storage, especially solar-plus-storage, has become a major driver for battery build.

This is a new era of dispatchable renewables, based on new contract structures between developer and grid.”

Just 10 countries are on course to represent almost three-quarters of the global market in gigawatt terms, hence the need to encourage more governments to heavily invest in sustainability and clean energy resources to address climate change, according to BNEF.

The countries include South Korea, China, the US, India, Germany, Latin America, Southeast Asia, France, Australia and the UK.

Energy research and consulting firm DNV GL has recently released its ten recommendations on how the globe can achieve the energy transition and limit global warming. One of these includes governments increasing the production of energy storage batteries by 50 times by 2030. This can be done by increasing investments in storage and energy balancing solutions to ensure more solar and wind energy is integrated with main grid networks.

A new report released by Enel and the European House – Ambrosetti states that regional benefits of the energy transition will reach €145 billion and up to 1.4 million new jobs. Energy storage and demand response are key energy transition business cases that are expected to have significant impacts.

Taking into consideration, the benefits which utilities integrating energy storage and renewable resources are recording, it is clear that technology is a key enabler of the energy transition. Hence there is a need to invest more in innovating and accelerating the deployment of storage solutions to be able to enhance the efficiency of the grid and to secure the decarbonisation of grid networks. SEI