If the sun is not shining or the wind is not blowing, how can we access power from renewable energy? Energy storage is vital to the future growth of the clean energy sector. A world that runs on clean energy sources will require a massive amount of additional capacity for storing energy at utility scale to respond to electricity demands and be sustainable in the long run.
Take a look at some of the latest storage solutions essential to smoothing out the kinks in renewable energy supply without relying on fossil fuels.
Battery Energy Storage Systems
Battery energy storage systems are rechargeable batteries that store energy from solar arrays or the electric grid to provide energy to a home or business. During the day, the battery system is charged (e.g., by wind power or solar power), and the energy is discharged from the battery storage system during times of high usage, reducing or eliminating costly demand charges. Software and algorithms are used to optimize when the stored energy is used.
The world’s largest battery energy storage system so far is the Moss Landing Energy Storage Facility in California, where the first 300-megawatt lithium-ion battery became operational in January 2021.
Tesla’s Megapack technology is a utility-scale battery technology that is being deployed at the Moss Landing project in California with PG&E. Megapack will replace the need for using “peaker” natural gas power plants, which fire up whenever the local power grid can’t provide enough power to meet peak demand.
Energy Dome CO2 Battery
In June 2022, Italian company Energy Dome began commercializing the world’s first CO2 battery long-duration energy storage technology. This has been deployed on a utility-scale and uses carbon dioxide in a closed-loop cycle that can store and dispatch renewable energy to the power grid. Through this technology, it is possible to both absorb power from the grid and return power to the grid.
According to Energy Dome’s website, “The CO2 battery is based on a thermodynamic process that stores energy by manipulating CO2 under different state conditions in a closed thermodynamic transformation.”
These long-duration storage projects will take place in Italy, Germany, the Middle East, and Africa.
Hydrogen is stored as a gas or a liquid, is an environmentally friendly chemical fuel, and has the highest heating value per mass.
In June 2022, the Department of Energy issued a $504.4 million loan for an energy storage facility in Delta, Utah that will capture excess renewable energy when it is most abundant, store it as hydrogen, then deploy it as fuel for a nearby power plant. The Advanced Clean Energy Storage Hub is being built by excavating hundreds of brine ponds and through a technique known as “solution mining”, cylindrical underground salt caverns the size of the empire state building will be constructed and give rise to the largest renewable energy facility in the world.
Thermal Energy Storage
Thermal energy storage involves storing surplus energy from renewable sources, or waste heat to be used later for heating, cooling, or power generation. Thermal energy is typically stored either in liquids, such as water or in solid materials like sand and rocks. However, recent breakthroughs have shown that molten salts, eutectic, and phase-changing materials can be used to store heat energy.
HeatVentors, a Hungarian startup, makes phase-changing material-based thermal energy storage systems. Their product known as “HeatTank,” uses the process of melting and solidifying phase-changing materials to store thermal energy.