As renewable power generation accelerates and concerns around the capacity and resiliency of energy grids grow, companies are increasingly exploiting and developing energy storage systems. But grid-connected energy storage systems are not a novel concept and have existed for years.
Why is energy storage important?
In its simplest form, energy storage is best thought of as an enabling technology; it enables producers to store excess energy for use in periods of low production, making the grid more dynamic and responsive. Unlike fossil fuels, which require transportation and storage and allow power generators considerable control over the rate of energy produced, energy generated by solar and wind is intermittent and depends on uncontrollable elements. As renewables grow in prominence on the electrical grid, the need to store and manage intermitted energy grows.
The benefits of energy storage?
Beyond enabling the increased use of renewable electricity generation, improved energy storage technologies have several other benefits:
- Responsiveness: Storage solutions can rapidly respond to large fluctuations in demand, making the grid more responsive and reducing the need for backup power plants.
- Flexibility: Energy storage allows greater grid flexibility as distributors can buy electricity during off-peak times when energy is cheap and sell it to the grid when it is in greater demand.
- Environment: Greater use of renewable electricity will lead to decreased emissions.
- Economic: The cost of energy storage, solar and wind energy have dramatically decreased, making solutions that pair storage with renewable energy more competitive.
Types of energy storage?
Energy storage can refer to a wide range of technologies and approaches to power management. Below are some of the most common systems used:
- Compressed air: Usually located in large chambers, surplus power is used to compress air and store it. When energy is needed, compressed air is released, passing through air turbines to generate electricity.
- Lithium-ion batteries: Lithium-ion batteries are by far the most popular battery storage option today and control more than 90% of the global grid battery storage market. Compared to other battery options, lithium-ion batteries have high energy density and are lightweight. New innovations, such as replacing graphite with silicon to increase the battery’s power capacity, are seeking to make lithium-ion batteries even more competitive for longer-term storage.
- Flywheels: Flywheels are rotating mechanical devices used to store rotational energy. In simple terms, a flywheel contains a spinning mass in its center driven by a motor — when energy is needed, the spinning force drives a device like a turbine, producing electricity and slowing the rotation rate. Excess electricity is then used to drive the motor, which increases the rotational speed, recharging the flywheel for later use.
- Pumped-storage hydropower: Pumped-storage hydro (PSH) facilities are large-scale energy storage plants that use gravitational force to generate electricity. Water is pumped to a higher elevation for storage. When electricity is needed, water is released back to the lower pool, generating power through turbines.
Top energy storage developers in the U.S.
Below is a chart of the top 10 U.S. energy storage developers by megawatt available within our Enverus Foundations Power & Renewables platform. It’s important to note that not every company listed operates exclusively in the energy storage sector, but they are all significant players in the growth and development of the energy storage industry. The future looks bright for battery storage systems and these companies will undoubtedly play a prominent role in the evolution of both energy storage systems and renewable energy projects.
Figure 1 | Top 10 U.S. Energy Storage Develops by Megawatt
By introducing more flexibility into the grid, energy storage can help integrate more solar, wind and distributed energy resources. It can also improve the efficiency of the grid, increasing the capacity factor of existing resources. We hope that we can show you how our analytics and insights will benefit your workflows. You can access your preview of Enverus Foundations™ | Power & Renewables here!