Energy storage is a term that has been used quite a lot in recent years, especially this past year. And while you may be familiar with the concept of storing energy, you might not quite understand how the process works. In this post, we’ll dive into explaining what exactly energy storage is, how energy storage works, and the different types of ways to store energy. We will also identify some of the benefits associated with energy storage solutions.
What Is Energy Storage?
Energy storage plays an important role in the future of how we power our planet. In fact, engineers and policymakers have increasingly begun focusing their attention on developing and enhancing energy storage solutions.
The amount of electricity that can be generated remains the same over a period of time, while the demand for electricity fluctuates throughout the day. Additionally, because most renewable energy technologies (including wind and solar) have sporadic outputs, storage technologies can help stabilize and maintain the electricity supply from these sources and ensure that the supply generated matches the demand.
How Does Energy Storage Work?
As mentioned above, the electric power grid operates based on an intricate balance between supply (generation) and demand (consumer use). Energy storage helps balance fluctuations in electricity supply and demand. It does this by storing electricity during periods of high production and low demand and then releasing electricity to the electric power grid during periods of lower production and higher demand.
Types of Energy Storage
According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), energy can be stored in a multitude of different ways, such as:
- Pumped hydroelectric –This technology uses electricity to pump water up to a reservoir for later release. When needed, the released water flows down through a turbine to generate electricity.
- Compressed air – With this technology, electrical air compressors compress air at up to 1,000 pounds per square inch and store it, typically in underground caverns. The pressurized air is released to generate electricity through an expansion turbine generator when electricity demand is elevated.
- Flywheels – This technology leverages electricity in order to accelerate a flywheel, a type of rotor which conserves energy as kinetic rotational energy. Engaging the flywheel uses the spinning force of the flywheel to turn a generator and create power.
- Batteries – This technology is similar to storing energy in lithium-ion, NiMH or other common rechargeable batteries, except the batteries are extremely large, able to store a great deal of electricity until needed. These systems use lithium-ion, lead-acid, lithium iron, or other battery technologies.
- Thermal energy storage – With this type of storage solution, electricity is used to produce thermal energy that is stored until it’s needed.
Benefits of Energy Storage
Energy storage can certainly help address the intermittency of solar and wind power, but it can also respond rapidly to large fluctuations in demand, making the grid more responsive and reducing the need to build backup power plants. Some additional benefits of energy storage, as outlined by the U.S. Department of Energy, are:
- Improved quality of power, and reliable electricity delivery to customers
- Greater stability and reliability of transmission and distribution systems
- Helping to extend the use of existing equipment, and as a result, delaying or avoiding costly upgrades
- Increased availability and market value of distributed generation sources
- Enhanced value of renewable energy generation
- Reduced costs through capacity and transmission payment deferral
Energy storage is one of the greatest focus points experts are focusing their attention on today when it comes to renewable energy solutions, particularly when it comes to solar energy. Thanks largely to improved technology, solar power has become one of the most efficient sources of clean energy.
How Energy Storage Improves Solar Technology
One of the larger hurdles plaguing the solar energy industry is that solar energy can be quite weather dependent. However, with appropriate batteries used as solar energy storage, generated energy can be stored up for nighttime and inclement weather use.
Climate change is a critical issue the whole world is currently facing, and one way to help tackle this global crisis is to transition to using sustainable energy, including solar. Scientists have begun looking to renewable energy sources as a way to address electricity generation on a large scale. Solar energy is one of the sources being considered.
Stay tuned on our blog if you’re curious to learn more ways you can help combat global warming. Also, don’t forget to check out the 5 Reasons to Switch page on our site for all of the perks that come along with switching to Spring Power & Gas.