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Why do we need energy storage system?

Nov. 28, 2023

A sandy corner of South-Eastern Morocco hosts what could be the key to achieving the world’s net zero ambitions. It is a research center for renewable energy storage built by Masen, the Moroccan Sustainable Energy Agency, that conducts research and testing on new ways to create and store solar energy. The World Bank’s ESMAP has joined several innovative private sector firms to support this research center that is specifically designed to serve the energy storage needs of the developing world.

Why is this so important? Energy storage is key to secure constant renewable energy supply to power systems – even when the sun does not shine, and the wind does not blow. Energy storage provides a solution to achieve flexibility, enhance grid reliability and power quality, and accommodate the scale-up of renewable energy.  But most of the energy storage systems developed to date are not suited for the distinct conditions and use cases of the developing world.

Energy storage systems do not follow a one size fits all approach. And the needs of developing countries have often been overlooked. Developing countries frequently feature weak grids. These are characterized by poor security of supply, driven by a combination of insufficient, unreliable and inflexible generation capacity, underdeveloped or non-existent grid infrastructure, a lack of adequate monitoring and control equipment, and a lack of maintenance. In this context, energy storage can help enhance reliability. Deployed together with variable renewable energy like wind and solar, it can help displace costly and polluting fossil fuel-generated electricity, while increasing security of supply.  Storage can also help defer or avoid the construction of new grid infrastructure.

That is why the Masen testing site, also called testbed, is located in a harsh desert environment. Not only can it replicate the climate conditions in which the storage systems will be housed, but it can also provide testing conditions for their ultimate use cases, such as providing night-time low voltage power for critical needs like local hospitals.

The testbeds are being built with these conditions, needs, and use cases in mind. The idea is that with the right storage systems in place, the real potential of renewable energy can be met, and with that, the world can start to meet its net zero obligations.

Scaling Storage Systems

It is increasingly clear that the global deployment of renewable energy is dependent on scaling up storage systems. It is the frontier that must be crossed to reach net zero and universal access to clean energy by 2030.  For instance, Morocco itself has a target of having 52% of its installed capacity coming from renewable sources, but this is not a target it can reach without energy storage to provide the essential flexibility needed for renewable energy production at scale.

Solar PV is already the cheapest source of electricity but without storage, it cannot be properly harnessed. The only way to put more of that PV into grids or into national plans for capacity expansion is if there is storage to match demand and production of electricity.

The evolution of renewable energy has come in two distinct phases. From 2010 to 2020 the overall pricing of renewable energy systems – especially for solar and wind energy - either dropped below or reached parity with fossil fuels in most countries. This incentivized a huge increase in new projects. But since then, what has become apparent is that solar and wind projects have placed huge pressures on national grid systems, which typically can only absorb around 30% of the new solar and wind power that is generated.

In addition to new storage technologies, energy storage systems need an enabling environment that facilitates their financing and implementation, which requires broad support from many stakeholders.  ESMAP has created and hosts the Energy Storage Partnership (ESP), which aims to finance 17.5-gigawatt hours (GWh) of battery storage by 2025 – more than triple the 4.5 GWh currently installed in all developing countries. So far, the program has mobilized $725 million in concessional funding and will provide 4.7 GWh of battery storage (active projects), supplemented by 2.4 GWh (future pipeline).

The ESP is currently working to develop a solar PV plus battery storage hybrid power purchase agreement (PPA) framework. PPAs are the backbone of all power projects as they help determine, for example, who will buy the electricity and at what price. This brings the certainty necessary to get projects financed.

Creating this PPA framework as a global good will allow for the systematic deployment of storage systems around the world, moving beyond the project-by-project approach. It will also allow far greater volumes of finance to enter the sector, especially from the private sector.

Mainstreaming energy storage systems in the developing world will be a game changer. They will accelerate much wider access to electricity, while also enabling much greater use of renewable energy, so helping the world to meet its net zero, decarbonization targets. 

 

The Energy Storage Partnership held its Stakeholder Forum and the 9th ESP Partner Meetings June 26-30, 2023, with more than 40 countries represented. Our thanks go to our hosts, the United Kingdom Government - through the UK Department for Energy Security and Net Zero, and the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) - and Loughborough University. This is the first time the ESP Stakeholder Forum was held in the UK.

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Have you ever wondered how much the electricity you use costs? Sure we try to conserve energy, turn off lights, make sure our
remote sites aren’t running when idle, but the actual economics behind our energy use is oft-forgotten.

Though the world is still heavily reliant on energy derived from fossil fuels, recent trends in renewable energy have made the traditionally cost-prohibitive energy sources much more accessible.

Before diving into a cost breakdown for renewable energy, let’s first talk about how organizations can begin to calculate and monitor their energy costs.


What is Energy Storage?

Energy storage is as straightforward as it gets – the capability to store energy for later use. This energy storage helps reduce reliance on backup power supplies like generators that rely on fuel to provide energy. Energy storage systems come in all shapes and sizes, providing efficient and sustainable backup power for houses, remote sites, data centers, industrial facilities, and others.

Energy storage can also offset the usage of these generators by using them to charge and only turn them back on when the State of Charge (SoC) reaches low enough levels. However, renewable energy sources like solar and wind have been introduced recently and changed this model. Now, they can supply even more efficient charging and use of renewable energy storage solutions by removing the need for fossil fuels.

So now that we’ve established what energy storage is, let’s dive into the available energy storage solutions and how they work.

What are the types of energy storage systems available?

There are numerous methods and sources for energy storage, but the most popular ones include batteries, hydroelectric, compressed air, pumped storage, Hydrogen, and Methane. For this piece, we will be focusing on backup batteries, compressed air, and hydroelectric energy storage.

Pumped Hydroelectric Storage

Source: UCUSA.org

Pumped hydroelectric storage relies on the kinetic energy generated by the falling movement of water pumped through a turbine or pump. These systems rely on an upper and lower reservoir to manage the flow of water, where water is released from the upper reservoir through the turbine to generate electricity.

Dams, the primary source of hydroelectric energy, are a prime example of the application of this stored energy, releasing water from their reservoir to provide power when demand peaks.

Compressed Air Energy Storage (CAES)

Source: EnergyStorage.org.ua

Compressed Air Energy Storage (CAES) operates very similarly to hydroelectric storage. Air in the surrounding area, or other compressed gasses, is trapped, pressurized, and stored underground in a natural cave or artificial container with a heat source. When energy is needed, the heat source is activated, pushing the air into an expansion turbine driving a generator, which produces electricity.

Battery Storage

Source: SciTechDaily

Battery energy storage systems are among the most widespread and accepted solutions for residential, commercial, and industrial applications. They power everything from our phones to cars, houses, and even retail and industrial facilities. Batteries can store electricity by converting it into stored chemical energy, which is converted back to electricity as needed.

Batteries come in a variety of orientations, including lead-acid, metal-air, lithium-ion (Li-Ion), and sodium-sulfur. Li-Ion batteries are leading the pack in terms of growth, as they offer high efficiency, energy density, and overall power output. Uninterruptible Power Supplies (UPS) often use batteries to provide near-instantaneous energy supply in the case of outages.

So now that we’ve gone over some of the most popular energy storage systems and how they are applied to everyday use cases, we should discuss why energy storage is so important.

Why should you care about storing energy?

Energy storage carries importance for such a wide range of applications, but why should you pay attention to developments in energy storage now? Well, for one thing, the market is booming.

As more and more sectors adopt these solutions seeking efficient energy alternatives, the market is proliferating. From 2020 to 2021, the energy storage market has doubled in sizeand global storage capacity is expected to increase by 56% in the next five years. In terms of total energy supply, 2021 marked the first time over 10 Gigawatts (GW) of energy storage was installed in a single year.

All of this energy storage capacity will have wide-reaching effects in terms of energy efficiency and use, especially for site operators, service providers, and others. These are just some of the reasons implementing an energy storage solution will improve these metrics:

  • Boost the quality and reliability of energy delivery by providing temporary continuity during outages.
  • Create flexibility for the electric grid as outages become increasingly costly by preventing extended downtime and providing backup power when needed
  • SAVE MONEY! It can significantly lower energy costs by reducing fossil fuel use and lost revenue from outages.
  • Integrate a variety of energy sources, including renewables, to further save on energy costs.
  • Inject and extract energy according to changes in load in real-time.
  • Reduce environmental impact through improved energy efficiency, reduced carbon emissions, and a new opportunity for renewables.

What are the challenges to implementing Energy storage?

While the opportunities remain numerous for energy storage to transform your operations, some obstacles to implementation still exist. One of the most prevalent is the dissonance between steadily dropping prices and a lasting perception of high cost. 

In addition, especially in the case of backup batteries, there is a diverse selection to choose from, and frequently each supplier even has its proprietary technology. These differing policies and processes tie into the next challenge – severely lagging regulatory guidelines. This causes technology advances in the field to outstrip the controls to ensure they are safe, secure, and effective.

Another issue is energy storage maintenance. Depending on the energy storage technology, some solutions require a great deal more upkeep and regular maintenance to remain effective solutions. This can drive up overall costs and create additional expenditures where there weren’t any previously.

Lastly, how do we define energy storage? What energy assets are included, and how should we define their operations and use? This lack of clear purpose has made adopting these technologies and solutions much slower, with significant stakeholders left with serious questions about energy storage’s current and future intentions.

Energy storage and sustainable operations – two peas in a pod

Besides providing immediate backup power and energy flexibility for your sites and facilities, energy storage has a marked effect on carbon emissions. For the telecom sector, over 90% of network costs are spent on energy annually, which makes up over 3% of the world’s total energy use. 

Utilizing energy storage solutions can drastically reduce these costs. Depending on the type of energy storage used, carbon emissions can be significantly curtailed by moving away from relying on fuel-powered generators and other fuel-reliant energy sources.

A recent study found that implementing certain energy storage technologies can provide up to a 90% reduction in energy-related carbon emissions on a state-wide level. Implementing these solutions on a site-by-site basis can have the exact same effect.

However, maximizing these reductions and your energy efficiency performance will take more than just energy storage solutions to achieve these goals. Remote monitoring and management (RMM) software can help provide insights into the performance and usage of your energy storage solutions onsite.

Many times their usage as backup energy sources is poorly implemented. In specific locations with unstable grid availability, these batteries can be relied upon far more than intended or sometimes not function at all when they should.

RMM solutions can provide the visibility you need and insights into these energy assets’ performance to optimize your efficiency and their use. They also provide intelligent management capabilities for energy storage systems without needing to be on site.

Now that we’ve established the importance, challenges, and sustainable nature of energy storage, let’s dive into where it is being used today.

Where is energy storage being used?

Energy storage solutions are being used in a variety of industrial, residential, and commercial applications. They are also highly adaptable to practically any energy source, both fossil fuels and renewables. This adaptability provides flexibility to real-world uses using different energy sources to give the batteries charge, all while potentially reducing carbon emissions.

There are many current applications for these energy storage solutions, but we will touch only on some primary examples.

Information and Communication Technology (ICT) Sectors

LCOE is a calculation used to assess the relative cost of energy-generating technologies. This metric determines the lifetime costs for energy supply according to usage scale, location, and type of energy. That includes the cost per unit of energy generated and the installation costs involved in a similar ratio.

Energy Distribution Networks

LCOE is a calculation used to assess the relative cost of energy-generating technologies. This metric determines the lifetime costs for energy supply according to usage scale, location, and type of energy. That includes the cost per unit of energy generated and the installation costs involved in a similar ratio.

Electric Vehicles (EVs)

LCOE is a calculation used to assess the relative cost of energy-generating technologies. This metric determines the lifetime costs for energy supply according to usage scale, location, and type of energy. That includes the cost per unit of energy generated and the installation costs involved in a similar ratio.

Galooli is ready to supercharge your energy storage

Galooli turns your backup energy storage solutions like batteries into smart, insight–producing assets that can optimize your efficiency, energy use, and asset durability. Our platform provides real-time visibility of these energy assets’ and others’ performance and live alerts to any errant issues. We also provide regular reports tracking these assets over time and highlighting any inconsistencies we find.

Especially in the case of backup batteries, theft can be a frequent issue for remote site operators. Our solution includes sensors to detect the slightest vibration to the batteries’ housing. With Galooli’s live GPS overlay, our RMM solution can track any battery movements until the relevant authorities can recover it.

Using our gathered insights on your batteries’ performance, we can provide live voltage recommendations for each battery to maximize its durability, warranty, and efficiency. If your site relies on Li-Ion batteries, we can also provide an in-depth look at their performance, including SoC, SoH, voltage, operating time, temperature, and more.

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