Defending the potential of electricity storage

15th December 2016 | Commercial Energy

“It doesn’t take a rocket scientist, or even a nuclear scientist to understand why the nuclear industry might be fretting about electricity storage.” These are the words of Dr Jill Cainey, Director of the Electricity Storage Network. This was in response to some doubts being expressed recently about the technology’s chances of transforming the overall power generation mix.

There had been some dissent recently in response to Cainey’s article in Power Engineering International. There were also comments by Michael Lewis, CEO of E.ON Climate and Renewables who expressed positives about storage’s chances. The nuclear sector has shown little enthusiasm. Cainey continues, “It seems a little disingenuous for those form the world of nuclear generation to describe electricity storage as too expensive.”

Criticisms of the potential of electricity storage include: land-user requirements (prohibitive), friction or stray heat losses (amounting up to 40 per cent of potential), and costs. Cainey also says that criticisms will often fail to take into account such issues as flexibility and system design.

Options available

There are various forms of electricity storage, including Batteries, Compressed Air Storage, Electrolytic Hydrogen Storage, Molten Salt Energy Storage.
Cainey goes on, “High fossil fuel plant can provide flexibility but aren’t as flexible as electricity storage, so not as efficient, so look at the cost/ benefit. This will only strengthen as the cost of electricity storage comes down. And remember batteries aren’t the only show in town.”

There are commentators and industry players who believe that “baseload” is an outdated concept, including German-American energy storage technology company Younicos: baseload is what the UK electricity system is based on. At the moment, renewable generation is not able to meet demand consistently but that could change and might be heavily reliant on how we generate winter heat.”

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