The question is not “Can it be done?” as energy storage solutions exist in the electric power industry, but “How much will it cost?” In the era of low fuel costs, little time was given considering different storage methods. Even as new capabilities came to market, costs remained high. If the cost of doing nothing with – wasting – generated electricity is lower than the cost of adopting storage technologies, waste wins.
But as fuel prices escalate, many planners are looking for answers in energy storage applications. Waste has become painful – and costly – enough to warrant new solutions. And many more storage options are available.
As Jillis Raadschelders of KEMA (a large, multinational energy consulting company) says, “Storage is an integral part of every logistic chain… except in the electricity sector. By using energy storage, you can separate the generation of energy from its use – both in time and in space – without sacrificing quality at any level.”1
After fuel sources, generation, transmission, distribution and delivery, energy storage is often considered a sixth – missing – component of the electric power market. With storage, utilities need only to anticipate a heavier than normal load, but can run existing equipment at a higher level, leading to a greater return on investment (ROI). Rather than replacing the existing system, energy storage technologies can serve in a supplementary role, yet greatly improve efficiency and utilization.
And what about the connection to renewable energy sources? Between 2000 and 2008, global renewable energy installations have tripled.2 But most experts agree that intermittent sources of power will never reach true market penetration without storage. Why? Utilities need assurance that the power supply will be there when the demand hits.
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