Energy storage is a central, even crucial, component in the transition to a clean energy economy. As PV magazine states in a recent article:
“Our electric grid is often called the largest machine in the world – specifically the Eastern and Midwest interconnected power grid. This machine touches every one of us. And residential customers have explicitly and overwhelmingly expressed a demand for energy storage in their homes. Meanwhile, the hard reality is that if we’re going to power our country with clean electricity from intermittent sources like the sun and wind – we’re going to need energy storage in massive amounts. The Energy Storage Association has given us a short term map to move towards this end-game.”
The reference to the Energy Storage Association (ESA) refers to their white paper, 35X25: A Vision for Energy Storage. The executive summary of that report clearly lays out what’s at stake, with the U.S. power sector “in the midst of profound transformation,” where the roles of both power producers and consumers are shifting rapidly. According to the ESA, advancements in energy storage will accommodate this shift and create opportunities for more than 35 gigawatts (GW) of new energy storage systems by 2025 in the U.S.
What will 35 GW of energy storage by 2025 mean for the U.S. power grid? Many things, including:
1) Reducing “curtailment” of large amounts of wind, solar and hydro power, currently wasted because “the grid is incapable of storing electricity or dynamically adapting to align supply and demand”;
2) Reducing and eventually eliminating grid disruptions;
3) Allowing for a more “efficient, sustainable and affordable grid”;
4) Encouraging the electrification of the economy;
5) Integrating “large amounts of intermittent generation and distributed generation” and “enabl[ing] continued growth in renewable energy” – solar and wind in particular;
6) Significantly reducing CO2 emissions, “by maximizing the utilization of renewable energy, and by improving the efficiency of conventional grid generation”;
Where can we expect to see the most growth in energy storage through 2025? According to ESA, the Southwest and Hawaii will account for about 34% of cumulative U.S. energy storage capacity additions through 2025, with the Northeast accounting for 28%, the Southeast for 19%, the Central and Midwest region for 13% and the Northwest for 6%.
The end result of all this? A cleaner, more efficient, more cost-effective, more reliable power grid.