Our energy system is dynamically evolving. The realization of the urgency towards Net Zero, Green economies has been more pressing than ever. The energy transformation serving a more sustainable future, safeguarding our ecosystem and protecting our planet is of paramount importance for many developed and developing nations across the globe. In this analysis, we delve deeper into action plans of a globally coordinated mission tackling climate change. More importantly, focusing on a greener, more sustainable future, what that means for the renewable energy sector and where do we see an area of growth.
Net Zero is the target to eliminate the overall human contribution to greenhouse gas emissions. The concept has been made more widely used following the UNFCCC 2015 Paris agreement where many countries have signed to limit global warming to well below 2°C compared to pre-industrial levels. Important aspects to reach this target is of course more efficient use of energy and ending the unabated fossil fuel use. It is clear that further use of renewable energy is needed. The UN Climate Change Conference (COP26) is upon us, and that will give us a greater perspective on action plans bringing together heads of state, climate experts and campaigners.
According to the latest research, the share of renewables in the new electricity generating capacity in the global energy mix has almost quadrupled in the last decade, with forecasts suggesting an even greater increase for the foreseeable future. There is a variety of reasons to which this growth can be attributed. The technological advancements in the field have resulted in a reduced cost of renewable energy. For example, solar PV Modules costs have been reduced by 80% and wind turbine costs have been reduced by about 30-40%. The rise in investments in renewable energy are initiated by the early incentives mechanisms but consequently fueled by the improvements in financial models of renewable energy projects.
Renewable energy has been serving a dual purpose. It has become an environmental necessity through the lenses of a higher-yielding investment decision.
How can we introduce more renewable energy to the energy mix?
Energy storage is the technology that has the ability to accelerate renewable energy integration into the energy mix by eliminating the main disadvantages of these energy sources. And these are intermittency and usage uncertainty.
Renewable generation typically exhibits a low correlation with consumers’ energy demand. In addition, its intermittency can be unpredictable and varies across different short timescales.
Energy storage is at the centre of aligning demand with supply. By introducing the capacity of storing the produced energy when not required and then allowing it to be injected back into the grid when is needed (for example, during the night time when the solar plants cannot produce energy or on time periods when the wind does not blow), that can guarantee a smoother integration of large-scale renewable energy usage.
Prerequisite, for such adaptation, is grid system flexibility.
In most of the Future energy scenarios across the globe, the energy storage capacity deployment has to significantly scale up. Energy storage can and will unlock the growth in renewables by smoothing out intermittent resource’s output during periods of low production, increasing grid system’s liability and security.
Energy storage also bears the quintessential technology that can provide the grid flexibility to drive consumers’ transformation towards more efficient and smarter use of energy. It also links well with a demand-side response.
The numbers so far have been quite telling. If we take UK as an example, predictions reveal that up to 13GW of new electricity storage have to be deployed in near future.
Estimations can vary but they seem to be consolidating towards the fact that the total electrical energy storage capacity in 2050 can reach from 70GWh in the most conservative scenario, steady progression, all the way up to 160GWh in the best case scenario, leading the way. The numbers are impressive but they do fit in in the broader scalability context. Total submitted capacity for 2021 in the UK reaches a record-breaking status of almost 5 GW. Similar volume levels will be required by other countries, towards their Net Zero journey.
Furthermore, there are many more issues where energy storage can be proven of paramount importance. We store energy to respond to temporal variations in the electricity demand, to operate power plants at optimal efficiency, to reduce the infrastructure required for generation, transmission and distribution. We also can use it as emergency backup power.
Regulations will still need to evolve to promote energy storage’s further functions, including leveraging flexibility from consumer aggregation or grid congestion.
Securing a more sustainable future is our duty to future generations. Coordinated global actions, including appropriate regulatory frameworks and supportive policy agendas, will have to play a key part. The technologies that will allow this transition is already in place making certain areas within the renewable energy sector, such as energy storage, the next natural step towards a greener world economy. As the analysis shows, committing to scaling up these technologies is the way forward but it has to be done safely, sustainably and in a responsible way putting the people and the planet at the centre of our actions.
Article by Makis Antonakakis, Senior Project Manager, Trina Storage
About Trina Storage
Trina Storage, business unit of Trina Solar, is a global energy storage system provider dedicated to transforming the way we provide energy. Our mission is to lead the renewable energy transition through cost-effective storage and to provide Solar For Everyone by expanding solar generation at scale. Building on 20+ years of solar experience, we deliver cost-effective and flexible solutions to utilities and developers around the world.
More information at Trina Storage website.
About Trina Solar
Over 20 years Trina Solar has been evolving from a top class PV module supplier to the world’s leading PV and smart energy total solutions provider, with PV products, system solutions and smart energy. The company manufactures, sells and does research and development on PV products, EPC and O&M as well as smart micro-grid and multi-energy complementary systems and energy cloud-platform operations. Trina Solar has a presence in more than 100 countries and regions, including regional headquarters in Zurich, San Jose, Miami, Tokyo, Singapore, Dubai. The company operates eight manufacturing bases and more than 40 branches and has more than 12,000 employees worldwide.
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