Commercial energy storage is a game-changer in the modern energy landscape. This article aims to explore its growing significance, and how it can impact your energy strategy. We’re delving into how businesses are harnessing the power of energy storage systems to not only reduce costs but also increase energy efficiency and reliability. From battery technologies to innovative storage solutions, we will navigate the complexities and benefits of integrating energy storage into commercial operations.
What Is Energy Storage?
Energy storage refers to the capture and storage of energy. Energy storage systems play a critical role in balancing the supply and demand of energy, especially for intermittent renewable sources like wind and solar power. Energy storage technologies include batteries, pumped hydro storage, thermal storage, and others, each with its own specific advantages and benefits. Energy storage technologies are another factor contributing to a more reliable electrical grid.
The Different Types Of Energy Storage
There are several types of energy storage systems utilized by utility companies, industrial customers, and renewable energy operators. Let’s explore the details of each type of commercial energy storage system and its advantages below.
The U.S. has about 10.6 GW of large-scale battery storage in its electrical grid, mainly managed by ISOs and RTOs for grid balancing. The largest installations are in the PJM grid, followed by California’s CAISO. These storage solutions primarily use lithium-ion batteries for short-term storage, averaging four hours, and utilized to balance supply and demand in real time. Lithium-ion batteries are expected to become more affordable over time and have more commercial applications. Alternative batteries like flow and solid-state batteries offer benefits for longer storage and safety but come with higher costs, making them more sparse in the market.
Pumped Hydro Storage
Pumped hydro storage is a method of storing energy in the form of gravitational potential energy. It involves two water reservoirs at different elevations. When there’s excess electricity, water is pumped from the lower to the upper reservoir. During periods of high electricity demand, water is released back to the lower reservoir, passing through turbines to generate electricity. This system is especially useful for balancing the electric grid during fluctuations in supply and demand.
Hydrogen Fuel Cells
Hydrogen fuel cells generate electricity by combining hydrogen with oxygen. They’re quiet, reliable, and eco-friendly. These cells can also produce hydrogen through electrolysis when electricity is cheap, storing it for later electricity generation. However, their widespread use is limited by high costs, as they require many expensive elements to construct.
Thermal Energy Storage
In thermal energy storage, materials like rocks, salt, and water are heated and stored in insulated areas. When energy is needed, cold water turns the stored heat into steam, which drives turbines to generate electricity. This method can also be used for heating and cooling buildings.