Taking on the function of fossil fuel plants

According to the International Energy Agency (IEA), the global installed capacity of battery storage projects has increased over 15 times in the last five years. Why is this happening? There are two reasons behind it: the needs of the changing power systems and technological advances make storage systems —the combination of batteries with power electronics— cheaper.

Storage systems are key elements for the energy transition. A transition from energy sources such as coal, natural gas or nuclear to sources such as wind or solar photovoltaics that cannot modulate their production and chose when it happens. The technical reality is that each additional watt in the electrical system coming from wind or solar energy requires a more complex management to avoid power cuts. In conventional plants, the occasional imbalances between generation and consumption are absorbed by the inertia of rotating masses, revealed only by small variations in the frequency. However, when renewable energies replace conventional ones, the system loses part of its inertia and these variations are more sudden and difficult to manage.

The massive presence of wind and solar in the electrical grids require additional actions on the grids to guarantee their balance. Storage systems can help to balance electrical grids with high presence of wind and solar as they absorb instantly the surplus and compensate the lack of renewable production. That is one of the functions of the project Hornsdale Power Reserve, in the South of Australia, build by Tesla. It is equipped with 129MWh of storage capacity and can supply up to 100MW each instant. The grid operator pays for the service that this storage system offers to the Australian electrical grid, producing revenue to the owner. Doubtlessly, a suitable tariff framework, as the one that has allowed the implementation of this system in Australia, is a key factor to spread these projects to other countries where the penetration of renewable energy sources is increasing.

Not only large battery systems will help to increase the amount of renewable energy sources. In a near future, many industries will be equipped with storage systems. Even individuals will use batteries in their self-consumption systems or in electrical vehicles. The aggregation of all these small storage systems and their coordinate operation will be fundamental to guarantee the balance between supply and demand in a world where, luckily, energy will be generated by more and more renewable energy sources.

So, let’s keep an eye in having a lot of renewable energy sources but we cannot forget about the storage systems that will make it technically feasible.

Do you want to know why battery energy storage systems are a great success? Visit our blog in a few days and you will have a complete post about it written by our expert Gerardo Medrano.

Gerardo Medrano Arana

gmedranoGerardo is an indutrial engineer especialized in control and electrical systems theory. He works at Norvento’s Power Electronics Department where he collaborates in the development of converters for batteries and wind turbines. He also worked with other manufacturers in Spain, Germany and Australia in grid connection and design. Contact Gerardo