Powering the future: Renewable energy resources and the storage revolution

5 mins read

The significance of energy storage as a clean energy resource and how it can support decarbonization goals.

Nations are working to meet current and potential energy demand with green energy resources as the global electricity demand keeps rising and the effects of climate change are difficult to ignore.

However, it is obvious that new technologies and innovation will be needed to convert a grid intended for huge, key fossil-fired power stations to intermittent wind and solar power as renewable generation rises.

Grid-scale energy storage, which will play a crucial role in maximizing the potential of alternative energy sources and ensuring the availability of fresh energy when needed, will be one such category of new technology.

Cleaner power and more power

About 20% of the world’s total final energy consumption is now attributed to electricity. However, it is anticipated that the demand for electricity will increase significantly as access to electricity increases and trends toward total electrification of buildings and transportation accelerate.

According to the International Energy Agency, between 2022 and 2030, the demand for electricity will increase by 23 to 30%, and by 2050, it will be 75% to 150%.

The good news is that, based on current trends, the IEA projects that by 2050, green energy resources will account for 75 to 80% of all new capacity, dominating the global capacity additions needed.

Current political events have emphasized the need for energy security in addition to the obvious need to decarbonize energy systems in order to combat climate change. Fuels from fossil fuels pose a particular threat to energy security because they have short supply chains and are occasionally dependent on geopolitically unstable areas.

The financial and practical risks of relying on gas to power the global economy have become apparent with 60% of the world’s natural gas reserves concentrated in only four nations.

The resurgence and of alternative energy sources

Wind and solar generation previously meet a sizeable portion of existing energy demand, so renewable resources are not far off in the future.

Wind turbines in the UK produced 24.5% of the country’s electricity in 2022, enough to power 22.8 million homes. With the recently launched Dogger Bank onshore wind farm, which can generate up to 6 million homes every, the momentum is expected to continue.

Although there has been a significant deployment of solar resources due to concerns about climate change, this is no longer the only factor. In 96% of world markets, solar and wind are now the most cost-effective sources of electricity due to the rapid decline in the cost of renewable energy in recent years.

Compared to $46 and $45 for on-shore wind and solar, respectively, coal generation averages around $74 per MWh and gas generation is about $48.

Alternative energy sources are expected to overtake other forms of fresh energy generation in the upcoming years due to lower costs and growing climate concerns.

But, while these trends give cause for optimism regarding the achievement of climate goals, renewable energy sources present unique difficulties. Wind and solar energy are sporadic by their very nature. Or, to put it another way, the wind and sunshine do not react to the energy demand of society in real-time.

The significance of energy storage

New difficulties have arisen as a result of growing clean deployment. Grid operators have had a harder time balancing the supply and demand of electricity as alternative energy resources have increased. This is due to the fact that, despite the abundance of wind and solar energy, their availability may not coincide with the grid’s demand for energy.

Luckily, new energy storage technologies that can store hours of solar energy and release it when needed are entering the market. When used on a large enough scale, energy storage will stabilize the grid and store renewable energy so that it can run continuously on fresh energy.

The idea of energy storage is not fresh. Since the beginning of time, people have used pumped hydropower, which involves pumping water upward to a reservoir when it is needed to generate energy and allowing it to flow downward when necessary.

The exact battery technology found in your laptop or smartphone has recently also been used on a grid scale with lithium-ion technology. Both technologies, though, have their drawbacks. Pumped hydro is costly to construct and works in a particular geographic area. Li-ion batteries are effective at storing and supplying power for two to four hours, but they become expensive over longer periods of time.

Large-scale li-ion installations are also linked to safety risks from fires and poisonous materials.

It is becoming increasingly obvious that new renewable resources will be needed to fully meet the demands of an increasingly clean grid, even if it is not a novel idea.

Some ideas are now being developed to store energy for longer periods using a variety of electrical, bodily, and biochemical processes. The main challenge, according to, is achieving low-cost energy storage with a levelized storage cost, which is driven by various factors, such as capital costs, operating expenses, efficiency, and suitable life.

The development of new electrochemical technologies that can offer long-term energy storage (LDES) with low-cost entitlement has been the true breakthrough.

Iron flow technology, which has the benefit of storing electricity while being based on safe, plentiful, and cost-effective materials, is one first leader in this field. Iron flow systems, which can store up to 12 hours of energy, are currently being used to supply the grid with projects in Europe, Australia, and the US.

Coal to clean

The lynchpin that will make it possible to switch to a wholly clean grid is LDES technologies. LDES gives the grid the resilience and dependability previously offered by geological generators without generating carbon emissions by making sure that renewable energy resources are accessible when needed.

A coal-fired power plant in Eastern Germany will be converted into a hub for renewable energy sources, according to an announcement from the German energy company Lausitz Energie Verwaltungs Gmbh (LEAG).

Up to 14 GW of wind and solar energy will replace the burning of ash coal, which has historically dominated this area. This will be supported by hydrogen and up to 3 GWh of long-term energy storage to provide efficient baseload power.

An iron flow battery system from ESS Inc. that will be commissioned in 2027 and has a capacity of 50 MW/500 KWh is part of the facility. According to the Western Association for Storage of Energy, ESS batteries will increase the energy hub’s ability to consistently deliver fresh energy, guarantee its availability at all times, help cut costs, and lay the groundwork for the 200GW required by 2030 to decarbonize energy systems.

Globally, coal is being converted to fresh energy. Another instance can be found in Australia, where Energy Storage Industries Asia Pacific, ESS Inc., Stanwell Corporation, and others are leading a similar initiative to transform an existing coal-fired power plant into an innovative hub for solar energy. By the end of the decade, a 150 MW iron flow battery will be built to replace the pilot project that is supporting this transformation, which is currently based on an iron flux battery of 1MW/10MWh.

These centers for clean energy offer a roadmap for how LDES can safely use alternative energy sources to replace fossil fuels and improve energy security.

A better tomorrow

The demand for electricity is increasing, and climate-related disasters are becoming more frequent. Energy security is being impacted by the war in Ukraine and the Middle East. Net-zero targets are approaching. Together, these elements might be cause for pessimism, but the clean energy transition that lies back holds a lot of potential.

The good news is that solar energy sources are now the most economically viable source of energy thanks to recent technological developments. Countries all over the world are making significant investments to hasten the transition.

Clean energy, financial opportunities, employment, and a future powered by fresh, secure energy resources will all come with significant investments.

Matthew Boyle

Matthew Boyle is a distinguished Smart City Consultant, renowned for his expertise in IoT (Internet of Things) and cutting-edge urban technology solutions. With a deep understanding of Smart City initiatives, Matthew excels in leveraging IoT innovations to transform urban landscapes into efficient, sustainable, and connected environments. His strategic insights and hands-on experience in urban planning, data analytics, and IoT implementation make him a trusted expert in the field. Matthew Boyle is your go-to consultant for navigating the complex world of Smart Cities, ensuring seamless integration of IoT technologies, and unlocking the potential of data-driven urban solutions. With his guidance, your city can thrive in the digital age, enhancing quality of life and fostering a sustainable future.

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