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What is Energy Storage and How it Supports a Sustainable Future

December 14, 2023 Empower Energies

With renewable energy production reaching higher levels each year, the demand for energy storage has increased as well. Like how refrigerators allow consumers to store food until they need to use it, energy storage systems allow for consumers to access energy when they need it most.

To determine if energy storage is right for your business, take the first step of learning how it works, understanding its crucial role in a renewable energy system, and making choices to select the appropriate BESS that aligns with your company’s emissions or savings goals.

 

What is Energy Storage?

“Energy storage” refers to the process of converting electrical energy into a stored form that can be fed back into grid when needed. In renewable energy, we refer to energy storage as a means of storing energy generated via a renewable energy system such as solar panels or wind turbines.

 

What types of Energy Storage are there?

Energy storage comes in many forms, from pumped hydro to mechanical systems and iron oxide. The focus of this article will be on two BESS technologies, Lithium-ion and flow batteries. These technologies pair well with software that controls the charge and discharge of energy.

Lithium-ion batteries

Lithium-ion batteries currently dominate the market for battery energy storage solutions. Electric vehicles, cellphones, power tools, and many renewable energy systems that integrate with storage utilize these batteries.

Flow batteries

Flow batteries are a newer technology that use liquid chemistries, including zinc bromine, to store energy for larger-scale applications. Although the market is predominantly Lithium-ion, there is a sharply growing interest in Flow batteries and this technology expected to represent a larger share of the market.

 

Why is Energy Storage necessary?

Before examining why BESS are necessary for renewable energy, it is important to understand how the electrical grid system currently functions. Engineers built the grid with the assumption that it would primarily rely on fossil fuels, which generate energy at a consistent and predictable rate, known as firm power. Other sources, such as large hydro power and nuclear power, provide more consistent forms of energy capable of powering the grid at all hours of the day.

As the US electricity grid takes on more energy from renewable sources, we need to consider how the grid was designed to operate and make the necessary adjustments to maintain firm power. Unlike power generated by fossil fuels, renewable energy produced by wind turbines or solar panels is intermittent, it ebbs and flows based on environmental conditions and is only available to use at the rate it is generated. For example, a solar PV system at night would not produce any energy. This poses a problem for an electrical grid reliant on consistent power, and forces utilities to seek energy elsewhere, such as fossil fuels. Energy storage is a solution that enables the use of renewable energy regardless of the time of day, weather, or seasonal conditions.

 

Calling on expert help when investigating battery options can be a great investment to help boost your organization’s decarbonization efforts. Without this assistance, you could be leaving valuable tax and utility incentive dollars on the table – and with it, you can maximize both operational efficiency and security. The Inflation Reduction Act added an investment tax credit of 30% with its passing in 2022, making Energy Storage projects financially viable.

For more on how the Inflation Reduction Act’s changes to the Investment Tax Credit could open opportunities for your company, visit Empower Energies.