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Balancing electrical energy supply and demand


Renewable energy presents a challenge: how to meet peak demand with increasing reliance on intermittent sources. A new analysis explores storage options to facilitate use of renewables.

The challenge of reducing greenhouse gas emissions has prompted a shift from conventional power stations to renewable energy sources. However, if there is to be an effective application of renewable energy, the problem of meeting peak demands while relying on intermittent energy sources must be solved. New analysis has been exploring electricity storage options to meet the shift towards renewable sources.

While electricity currently represents 12% of global energy production, it is predicted to rise to 34% by 2025. This is due to the limited nature of fossil fuels and issues of emission reduction. Renewable sources will have to play a greater role. This may not be a seamless transition as renewable sources fluctuate – for example varying levels of sunlight and wind power. Energy storage during times of excess represents a sound solution. However, significant progress must be made in this area to improve the current 2.6% storage level in power production.

Canadian researchers have explored options for a number of scenarios, taking both cost and performance into account. High costs associated with lithium, compressed air and hydrogen systems mean lead batteries are still the best storage solutions for low- and medium-power application scenarios. In terms of network connection applications, a compressed air system would be best suited, while kinetic energy and supercapacitor systems are better for a power quality control application.

To achieve these technical solutions in Europe, Member States and the EU must assist in the improvement of delocalised production systems. Equally, funding has to be provided to develop cost-effective and safer lithium battery systems – such as the €5 million already provided in FP6 to the ALISTORE project.


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Control Centre of Renewable Enegies (CECRE)

Spanish power transmission company Red Eléctrica is a pioneer in renewable energy resource control. Its Control Centre of Renewable Energies (CECRE) represents the ideal model for maximising renewable energy production. CECRE allows renewable energy to be integrated into the national power system under secure conditions. As an operational unit integrated into the overall power control centre in Madrid, CECRE manages and controls the output of renewable energy producers, anticipating sudden losses in power generation. For its ground-breaking work, CECRE was a finalist for a prestigious European Business Awards for the Environment (EBAE) in 2008. Through CECRE, Spain is the first country to have a control centre for all its wind farms over10 MW.

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