Why Battery Storage Is Turbocharging Renewable Energy
With battery costs reaching all-time lows, the future has never looked brighter for renewables
Renewable energy is taking over electricity grids around the world. Wind and solar energy now provide almost 10% of global electricity, compared to less than 1% just 15 years ago.
This dramatic transformation has been powered by increasingly low costs. According to data from the International Energy Agency, wind and solar now provide electricity cheaper than virtually all other forms of power. However, there is one major drawback— intermittency.
Unlike many other sources, wind and solar do not provide power on a steady and predictable schedule. Instead, the electricity generated by a wind or solar farm depends on the weather.
This presents a challenge for grid operators. Demand for electricity fluctuates constantly, and grid operators must ensure that the supply of electricity meets demand at all times. When consumers turn on air-conditioners mid-day, they increase electricity production to compensate. Typically, this is done through “dispatchable” generation, which can adjust output as needed. The most common dispatchable sources include natural gas and hydro-electricity.
When intermittent sources are introduced to the mix, grid operators are forced to rely more heavily on dispatchable sources to ensure sufficient electricity supply. If intermittent sources make up only a small share of overall production, this problem remains very manageable. However, as renewables continue to grow, smoothing out the gap between supply and demand becomes more challenging.
Years ago, some critics suggested that this would limit renewable sources like wind and solar to a negligible role in the grid. While renewables now play a major role in many grids, variability remains a challenge at high penetration rates.
Battery Storage Presents A Solution
While there are several solutions that grid operators can employ, energy storage remains one of the most promising.
Energy storage comes in multiple forms. It can be deployed as stand-alone facilities where excess electricity is…