Energy storage, the missing link in the smart evolution of energy

Published on Friday, 20 November 2015

Energy produced from renewable sources enters a new era. The recent occurrence of technological innovations in the storage field opens up the path to overcoming one of the greatest obstacles in the smart progress of the evolution of energy production and distribution. The possibility of accumulating electricity generated by using photovoltaic and wind sources allows us to overcome two of the largest criticalities linked to so-called green production sources: the need to maintain a balance between production and consumption at all times and their division into small power plants.

The growing popularity of small photovoltaic plants is increasing interest in a new generation of batteries that can accumulate the electricity taken from them. In the future, residents could benefit from this kind of system and take on greater control of the modes and times needed to obtain energy, helping operators to manage the demand during the day and lightening the load on their systems.

Domestic accumulation systems, proposed on the market in 2015, have an intelligent mechanism that allows them to identify whether to store the energy in batteries, move it to the self-consumption section or introduce it into the grid. Also, the batter accumulation system allows stabilization of the varying energy production from renewable sources. It has a continuous function, in fact that is not interrupted if there is an electrical blackout, therefore it can carry on registering and storing the production of energy from renewable sources.

Acceleration towards the development and diffusion of this type of technology sees the most important players in the energy world hardware production industry as the protagonists. Last May, Enel Green Power and Tesla stipulated an agreement for testing the integration of energy accumulation systems, produced by the American company, in wind and photovoltaic plants belonging to the main Italian energy player. The agreement aims to increase production of plants and to provide advanced services for a better integration of renewable energy with the grid.

The company Samsung SDI, a subsidiary of the Korean manufacturer that specialises in green solutions has recently presented a range of flexible accumulation systems that allows personalisation of solutions to the users’ production and consumption needs, from private micro-scales to large manufacturing industries. The German multinational Bosch offers a smart solution for house storage that combines integrated production management solutions with household energy consumption. Last September during the Solar Power International conference, SimpliPhi Power presented a system of batteries to be used in homes and small companies that has a higher shelf life than other lithium ion batteries, and does not require expensive ventilation and cooling systems.

While the most important international players focus their attention on small production plants and domestic storage, the development of larger storage devices is just as important, which allow utilities to increase grid flexibility and operators to use electricity when it is necessary. Energy storage is the key factor for the evolution of the electrical grid towards being a more efficient, smart grid. In this context, Enel Green Power is promoting the ActiveRES project with the aim of integrating renewable source production plants with the grid, using storage systems. Thanks to new storage technologies, in fact, green production plants can fill the gap regarding provision safety and price, compared to conventional energy sources.

The matter of energy storage plays a crucial role in the context of energy sustainability and this role will only increase in the future: the capacity to increase electrical system flexibility depends on the efficacy of the storage systems. According to the 2015 annual report by the International Renewable Energy Agency this technological innovation will allow the share of energy produced from renewable sources to increase from 22% in 2014 to a minimum of 27% and a maximum of 40% by 2030.

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