For years, the biggest focus for green energy asset management was perfecting the process to set up and generate optimal clean power. Now that the industry has matured, and solar and wind projects are commissioned at an accelerated rate, the focus has shifted to perfecting storage.
The Global Energy Storage Outlook by Wood Mackenzie predicts a 13-fold increase in investment towards storage technologies in the next 6 years. From a 12 GW-hour market in 2018, renewable energy asset storage could jump to 158 GW- hour by 2024.
No doubt, lithium-ion batteries have paved a clear path to make renewables a go-to source of power for nations, governments, and private residences. However, for a utility-scale project, lithium-ion batteries prove to be expensive, despite a 90% drop in price since 2010.
Moreover, the chemicals needed for physical batteries are not inexhaustible. Therefore, before renewable experts can say they have mastered storage for green energy asset management – a lot needs to be done.
3 Non-Traditional Green Energy Asset Management Storage Methods
To get there quickly and surely, various green energy asset management companies are now willing to try not-so-conventional ways to store wind or solar power over the long run. While these methods aren’t new, they’re based on foundational principles of science that are tried and trusted, making them pretty much fool proof.
Perhaps, ‘simple’ is what we’ve been missing in the search for renewable energy storage? Let’s take a look at potential storage techniques that may become the norm in green tech.
Compressed Air Storage
Hydrostor, a Canadian startup, is bringing back compressed air as a storage means. The concept behind Compressed Air Energy Storage (CAES) has been around for decades. The process itself involves compressing air with excess electricity. And then pumping it into an underground cavern containing saline water.
When energy is needed, this air is released. Upon expanding, it rotates a turbine to generate power. One of the biggest pros of compressed air is minimal to nil use of toxic materials – making it truly green.
Moreover, storing more energy is simply a matter of digging a bigger cavern, or reducing the quantity of water in the existing one.
“Compressed air is a superior, long duration, non-emitting, cost-effective energy storage solution. It can flexibly be sited at locations of high grid needs to deliver hundreds of megawatts. And 4 to 24+ hours of storage.”Hydrostor, Canada
Currently, Hydrostor has three compressed air projects under construction in Canada and Australia. And with each of these projects, the company aims to do more than simply help with the global transition to clean power.
It wants to educate the masses on the importance of long-term storage for renewable energy assets. More precisely, on how well compressed air energy storage does the job for regional grids that rely heavily on solar and wind power.
Pumped Hydro Power Storage
Most renewable energy experts call Pumped Hydropower Storage (PHS) an established, yet scarcely used solution for global storage needs.
PHS works by pumping water between two reservoirs – from the lower to the upper one to generate and store power. When more energy is needed, it is released from the upper reservoir. It then falls on the turbines that rotate to discharge stored energy.
The International Institute of Applied Systems Analysis conducted a detailed study on the viability and competitiveness of PHS. They concluded that pumped hydro storage, on a seasonal basis, has global potential to become a ‘readily available, affordable and sustainable solution to support the transition to renewable generation.’
In the United States, substantial projects are underway to add pumped hydropower storage capacity to regional grids. One challenge that remains? Finding large water bodies that can be used for PHS without harming aquatic life.
Flow Batteries Storage
Flow batteries are another version of solid metallic batteries. Since they rely on liquids to store excess power, flow batteries can accommodate a higher amount of energy than the solid counterparts.
This system involves two tanks, each filled with an electrically charged liquid that has vanadium ions. One tank has a positive charge, and the second has a negative one.
A definite advantage of flow batteries is the ease of scaling up. Experts suggest you simply need bigger tanks, and more charged liquid to store exponentially more power.
However, needless to say, vanadium ions come at a price. Consequently, to turn flow batteries into a viable renewable energy asset storage, extensive research is underway.
Harvard University’s scientist, Michael Aziz, and his team have explored options to make flow batteries sustainable. They assert that an organic compound called quinone can replace the chemically charged liquid. This may result in a much faster electrochemical reaction at a fraction of the price.
Solving the Renewable Energy Storage Challenge
The performance of renewable energy storage technologies should tie into the working of the assets generating this power. Smart asset management platforms like PowerHub help manage these assets efficiently. Doing so not only justifies the investment in perfecting these technologies, it also induces resilience and stability in power grids.
An investment opportunity, a source of undisrupted power, and a means to further lowering costs – just some of the benefits of solving the green energy asset management storage challenge.
Are we ready for it?