The future of renewable energy is here, today. This increase in demand for renewable energy requires an unprecedented need for enhanced grid stabilisation considering that conventional (non-renewable, i.e. coal, oil and natural gas) are relatively stable due to synchronous generators supporting their stability.
This challenge can be met with the urgent need to drive a faster deployment of energy storage systems to cope with the increase in demand in order to realistically reach the United Nations’ net zero carbon-emissions target by 2050.
According to BloombergNEF’s Energy Transition Investment Trends, global investment in the low-carbon energy transition increased by 27% in 2021 which included projects such as renewables, storage and charging infrastructure. This is reportedly due to the increase in climate crisis publicity and stronger policies raising climate goals leading into COP26, but that’s without taking into consideration how the 2022 energy crisis has proven to be an “accelerant” for renewable energy with “demand at an all-time high”.
Challenges with renewable energy storage
This situation presents a number of challenges that must be acknowledged and overcome in order to deal with the continual rise in renewable energy demand powering consumer, commercial and utility-scale projects across Europe.
Grid capacity on our aging infrastructure
Our power grids are getting older and therefore are becoming less stable under pressure with the demands of modern living and modern industry. To ensure that grid capacity is sufficient to meet demand into the future, we must either upgrade our antiquated infrastructure and/or augment the grid with new modern technologies and concepts. Grid capacity must accommodate the demand at all times or our power grids face an uncertain future.
Dynamic Voltage and Frequency inputs
The frequency and voltage produced by renewable energy sources is dynamic due to the varying source inputs caused by time of day and the prevailing weather conditions. If these inputs are not compensated for, they can affect normal grid operation to varying degrees. Smart invertors, which are typically used to deal with these variations on modern solar installations are becoming more and more capable which will be needed into the future as smart grids become more and more commonplace.
Supply and demand imbalances
Even if we could predict all of our energy spikes with absolute accuracy, it is not possible to produce, condition and then direct renewable energy sources to exactly meet those demands. We typically can produce more energy than is needed during the day on a given site, and conversely during poor weather or at night, we will see a deficit of energy being produced which the grid must make up for. Unless we store this excess energy then it is wasted and of no use to anyone.
How battery energy storage overcomes the challenges
Battery Energy Storage Systems are rechargeable battery systems which store electricity generated from sources such as solar or wind and subsequently provide that energy back to the grid, workplace or household. Due to their advanced energy management techniques, these energy storage systems serve to stabilise the grid by importing and exporting (charging or discharging respectively) their stored energy to and from the grid, workplace or household as required based on demands placed on the power networks at any given time. Energy storage systems can also provide emergency backup power when necessary.
Peak Power Shaving
For commercial applications, arguably the most important function of energy storage, is peak shaving. Business utility bills are calculated largely based on the peak power demand in a given period no matter how many times this peak is seen. To ensure that the business is subject to a lower utility bill they can tune their energy strategy to ensure that they take the standard power demand from the grid and service the peak power spikes using fast response stored energy. Battery Systems are well suited to provide this service and guarantee that no power above a pre-determined threshold will be drawn from the grid during peak times. The additional power is provided by the battery which is then recharged from the grid (or renewables) when it is cost effective to do so.
Energy Load Shifting
By charging the battery with low-cost energy during periods of excess renewable generation and discharging during periods of high demand, Battery Systems can both reduce renewable energy limitations and maximise the value that the energy developers can sell to the market. Battery energy storage systems therefore allow businesses to shift energy usage by cost effectively charging batteries from renewable sources and discharging the stored energy when it would be more expensive to take energy directly from the grid.
Renewable generation in conjunction with Battery Storage Solutions opens up the concept of building micro-grids to replace or compliment the local grid with a scalable economically viable alternative. Micro-grids can be used in certain large commercial facilities or even powering entire communities in island based scenarios. A great example of this is our Maldives electrification project that replaced diesel generators and saved 2.6 million litres of diesel being used annually and dramatically reduces noise pollution especially at night.
It’s no secret that transitioning to a net-carbon-zero world is one of the greatest challenges human kind has ever faced (Source). It calls for a complete transformation of how we think, how we produce, how we consume and how we transport our people and goods on a global scale and is equally important at the local level. Everyone can play their part to make a difference globally. The energy sector is the source of around 75% of man-made greenhouse gas emissions today and therefore “holds the key” to slowing or reversing the worst effects of climate change. Replacing polluting coal, gas and oil-fired power with energy from renewable sources, such as wind or solar, would dramatically reduce carbon emissions.
With this, as detailed in this article, come challenges in that conventional power grids simply do not have the infrastructure or capacity to deal with the increased demands placed on them by todays modern society and industry. As discussed here, these challenges can be met with large scale deployment of Battery Systems in conjunction with other renewable technologies to supplement areas of our traditional Power Grids to meet the increasing demand.