The versatility of energy storage systems
Beside the basic application as home energy backup every customer thinks when he buy it, lithium-ion battery energy storage systems (BESS) could have several potential “extended” uses that shows the huge versatility of this technology.
Lithium ion cells are the means that allow this wide range of applications thanks to their good energy storage characteristics and modularity.
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Energy storage Systems and security of supply
An example of this should be the electrical outages caused by severe storms, both in South Australia and in Victoria last period, that have resulted in a spike in Australian households inquiring about battery storage for security of supply.
A good energy storage network should increase the main grid network “resilience” to large outages reducing power demanding during these events and avoiding the whole grid failure.
Obviously a cost effective solution means realize a well distributed network that should cover a substantial amount of the total power demand.
Storage systems as a drivers for a better use of renewable energy
In the other part of the globe, the Faroe Islands are isolated in the Atlantic Ocean between Iceland and Norway and have no option of importing electricity. They currently use oil, wind and hydro to generate electricity but the Faroese government has set a target of increasing renewable generation from 38 per cent in 2011 to 100 per cent by 2030.
Publicly-owned power generation and grid utility SEV opted to use storage to capture excess energy from the 12MW Húsahagi wind farm north of Tórshavn. As Europe’s first commercial use of lithium-ion energy storage to support a wind farm, the system comprises containerized battery systems made by Saft and able to store 700kWh combined with a 2.3MVA power-conversion system made by Enercon, which is also built into a container. The system was installed in spring 2016 and has been in operation since May, primarily to mask the effects of rapid changes in output on the local grid as the wind picks up or dips.
They have great potential in wind and hydro and to a certain degree solar photovoltaic. All of these are variable resources which call for storage as a bridging technology when there is no rain, no wind or no sun.
Storage systems in business sectors
Moreover energy storage is becoming critical to businesses where energy bills are a significant cost to the business, for example in multi-tenant data centres, water utilities, heavy industry and mining.
The challenge will be compounded if the business may receive penalties from its utility company for being considered a ‘bad’ load, due, for example, to harmonics, sags and surges caused by the operation of large electrical motors.
High-capacity storage could solve this issue giving the prospect, for building and factory owners, to create their own micro-grids: electrical networks that can operate independently of the main grid when they need to. The micro-grid approach lets the organization control how electricity is acquired, generated locally, stored and used according to its own rules. The connection to the national grid can be managed through power conditioners that ensure the installation acts as a good load and to watch for brownouts and outages, disconnecting the micro-grid from the network if the connection becomes unstable.
Storage systems, perfect partner for desalination boom
A boom in desalination could create new opportunities for energy storage as developers seek to maximize output from assets powered by wind or solar.
Currently, desalination serves around 1 percent of the global population, or almost 746 million people. But desalination capacity increased 57 percent between 2008 and 2013, according the market research organization Global Water Intelligence (GWI) and the International Desalination Association.GWI said desalination could be needed for up to 14 percent of the world population by 2025, based on United Nations figures for water scarcity.
Desalination is commonly used on islands where the main conventional fuel, diesel, is very expensive and solar or wind can easily compete on cost (i.e. island resorts might become early adopters of solar-plus-storage-powered desalination plants, since they often face high traditional generation costs combined with a significant demand for fresh water and a desire to be seen as environmentally friendly).
But even in areas where fossil fuels are commonplace, there could be powerful incentives to use renewable energy for desalination. Because desalination is often needed in desert environments that are already ecologically stressed, environmental friendliness is another potentially significant factor in choosing to use renewable energy for desalination.
Moreover concentrated solar power with thermal storage, for example, is a good match for desert regions with high desalination needs, and can potentially provide round-the-clock power.
At the end the energy autonomy for everyone will be an unending need in a future where the request will increase and the fossils fuels will decrease dramatically.
The challenge is provide it at accessible costs and solve the actual technology limits in order to have a real cost effective solution