How energy storage can unlock the potential of renewables

How energy storage can unlock the potential of renewables

Over the past five years, the UK’s renewable energy capacity has tripled, and the fossil fuel generation capacity has fallen by a third.

In May (2019), the UK went two weeks without burning coal for the first time since 1882. Another record was broken in May (2019) when over a quarter of the country was powered by the sun on one day.

To further transition to renewable energy sources, however, the UK will need to deploy energy storage. The National Grid has always faced challenges of balancing electricity generation with fluctuating demand

Renewable energy, such as wind or solar, can sometimes cause difficulties as the weather cannot be ‘switched on’ to meet demand, compared to a power station which can be activated to meet demands.

Energy storage can act as an additional supply when demand exceeds generation and saving energy for later when there is too much generation, maintaining the perfect balance.

Energy storage offers an opportunity for network operators to establish themselves as industry leaders in sustainability, as well as for energy users to lower their emissions and energy costs.

Network operators are not the ones who can benefit from energy storage, homeowners can also save money by storing energy generated by solar panels in the daytime for later use.

The next decade is likely to see widespread deployment of lithium-ion battery technology for energy storage as a complement to the larger work storage already being carried out by network operators.

When this happens, energy storage will be a necessity as a key component in a flexible and responsible smart grid, powered entirely by renewable energy.

“This is an increasingly pertinent point, as is the role of hydrogen in energy storage and the overall energy transition,” commented Rob Cockerill, Managing Editor of H2 View.

“Energy storage can help with balancing the grid, and the interest in hydrogen energy storage is growing due to the higher storage capacity compared to other technologies such as batteries.”

“Small amounts of hydrogen can be stored in pressurised vessels up to 300 bar, while solid metal hydrides or nanotubes can store hydrogen at high density, and much larger volumes of hydrogen can be stored in man-made salt caverns underground. We have already seen various examples of this. The hydrogen can then be called upon or re-electrified, with varying degrees of efficiency, when required and offset seasonal energy variations.”

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