The future potential of energy storage technology
The main applications of Energy Storage systems are stand-alone systems with the highest potential in third world countries as well as isolated and interconnected grids for stability and management purposes in industrial countries.
The perception of renewable energy systems and decentralised energy resources depends on the demonstration of their ability to supply with high-quality and with economic profitability. Energy storage systems have to compete against the present over-capacity of power stations and power generators with short start-up times, such as gas turbines and gas or diesel motors with the appropriate emission controls.
Energy storage systems enable energy services belonging load management, to peak shaving, power quality and uninterruptible power supply.
What does it offer the EU specifically?
Cost-effective energy storage will be a key enabling technology for the stable operation of the network (including mikrogrids) and for the integration of renewable energy sources (RES).
- The driving forces for research have been both economical and technological in nature: reducing size, cost of operation and investment, increasing efficiency to lower fuel consumption and emissions, and minimising the impact on the energy infrastructure.
How does it contribute to the achievement of EU objectives?
- EU policy objectives, such as meeting the Kyoto obligations to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, lowering consumption of primary energy, creating a sustainable supply of electricity with an increasing share of renewable energy; and supplying low-cost reliable electricity in remote areas of Europe and the third countries, can only be achieved if energy storage systems are improved further.
- The EU's research activities on energy storageare therefore a key element in achieving the EU environmental goals.
A look into the future
What are the future challenges for energy storage technologies?
- Reliable and affordable electricity storage is a prerequisite for optimising the integration of renewable energy systems. Energy storage therefore has a pivotal role to play in the effort to combine a future, sustainable energy supply with the standard of technical services and products.
- For both stationary and transport applications, energy storage is of growing importance as it enables the smoothing of transient and/or intermittent loads, and down-sizing of base-load capacity with substantial potential for energy and cost savings.
- Energy storage is a key element in achieving the EU policy goals for sustainability, air quality and cost-effective, competitive goods and services.
What are the research requirements?
- The rational for the development of new battery systems is an increase of energy and power density and lifetime under the actual operating conditions of an application. Battery research currently focuses on new and improved materials and manufacturing processes, as well as on their operating conditions.
- In stationary applications, research centres on specific improvements for specific battery applications, battery management systems and the overall system design.
- For portable applications, the focus of the research is on lithium-ion and lithium-polymer batteries, as well as nickel metal hydride batteries.
- For electric and hybrid vehicles, the research focuses on batteries such as NiMH, lithium-ion and lithium-polymer in order to increase their energy and power density.
- Future research on super-capacitors has to concentrate on cost, manufacturing process and the lowering of internal resistance.
- Key development areas for SMES include a reduction in cost, possibly achieved by the design of high-temperature super-conducting materials and low-temperature power electronics.
- Research on flywheels focuses on improvements in the materials and manufacturing processes to achieve long-term mechanical stability, better low-loss bearings and a reduction in costs.
- Research targets for heat and cold storage are the integration of different applications, and more cost-efficient methods to increase or decrease the temperature level
- Research for compressed gas storage needs to focus on the systems design, control strategies and temperature stability of the components.
- When looking at the list of energy storage technologies it can be clearly seen that progress in all of them depends heavily on progress in enhancing the properties and reducing the cost of specific materials.