Battery storage systems are emerging as one of the key solutions to effectively integrate high shares of solar and wind renewables in power systems worldwide. A recent analysis from the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) illustrates how electricity storage technologies can be used for a variety of applications in the power sector, from e-mobility and behind-the-meter applications to utility-scale use cases.
Even the most ardent solar evangelists can agree on one limitation solar panels have: they only produce electricity when the sun is shining. But, peak energy use tends to come in the evenings, coinciding with decreased solar generation and causing a supply and demand issue. The thing is, solar panels often pump out more than enough energy during those lower demand hours when the sun is shining to meet peak demand later in the day. This means that efficient solar energy storage can open up a wealth of possibilities for homeowners and businesses alike.
Storing this surplus energy is essential to getting the most out of any solar panel system, and can result in cost-savings, more efficient energy grids, and decreased fossil fuel emissions. Storing solar energy has a few main benefits:
- Balancing electric loads. If electricity isn’t stored, it has to be used at the moment it’s generated. Energy storage allows surplus generation to be banked for peak use. As far as renewable energy is concerned, storing surplus power allows the lights to stay on when the sun goes down or the wind stops blowing. Simply put, energy storage allows an energy reservoir to be charged when generation is high and demand is low, then released when generation diminishes and demand grows.
- Filling in the gaps. Short-term solar energy storage allows for consistent energy flow during brief disruptions in the generation, such as passing clouds or routine maintenance.
- Energy resilience. The energy grid is vulnerable to disruptions and outages due to anything from wildfires to severe weather. Solar energy storage creates a protective bubble during disruptive events by decentralizing where we get our energy from.
How does Battery Storage Come in?
Solar energy can also be stored in electrochemical batteries. When solar energy is pumped into a battery, a chemical reaction among the battery components stores the energy. The reaction is reversed when the battery is discharged, allowing the current to exit the battery. Lithium-ion batteries are most commonly used in solar applications, and new battery technology is expanding rapidly, which promises to yield cheaper, more scalable battery storage solutions. U.S. energy storage is expected to reach nearly 7.5 GW annually by 2025, a sixfold growth from 2020, representing a market worth $7.3 billion.
Utility-scale batteries, for example, can enable a greater feed-in of renewables into the grid by storing excess generation and by firming renewable energy output. Furthermore, particularly when paired with renewable generators, batteries help provide reliable and cheaper electricity in isolated grids and to off-grid communities, which otherwise rely on expensive imported diesel fuel for electricity generation.
At present, utility-scale battery storage systems are mostly being deployed in Australia, Germany, Japan, United Kingdom, the United States and other European countries. One of the larger systems in terms of capacity is the Tesla 100 MW / 129 MWh Li-ion battery storage project at Hornsdale Wind Farm in Australia.
In addition, several island and off-grid communities have invested in large-scale battery storage to balance the grid and store excess renewable energy. In a mini-grid battery project in Martinique, the output of a solar PV farm is supported by a 2 MWh energy storage unit, ensuring that electricity is injected into the grid at a constant rate, avoiding the need for backup generation. In Hawaii, almost 130 MWh of battery storage systems have been implemented to provide smoothening services for solar PV and wind energy.
Globally, energy storage deployment in emerging markets is expected to increase by over 40% each year until 2025.
In summary, the sun offers a limitless supply of clean power, but harnessing it can be a challenge. Thankfully, several options for commercial and residential storage offer proven solutions for storing solar energy, and emerging technologies are being developed daily. For commercial applications, mechanical storage options provide effective solutions to harnessing solar energy when it’s needed most, and grid-scale battery storage will likely become available soon. For residential solar, battery storage is the best option, with a variety of affordable units on the market. Together, these solutions provide an effective portfolio for storing solar energy and provide a compelling argument for further solar deployment in commercial and residential settings.
Storing Solar Energy: Everything You Need to Know – https://www.aurorasolar.com/blog/storing-solar-energy-everything-you-need-to-know/
Battery Storage Paves Way for a Renewable-powered Future – https://www.irena.org/newsroom/articles/2020/Mar/Battery-storage-paves-way-for-a-renewable-powered-future
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