Grid storage a must for energy efficiency
Adding storage capacity to electricity grids is a vital step in both increasing energy efficiency and leveraging more usage from renewable energy sources, said Roger Lin, director of product marketing at NEC energy solutions, at the XON-NEC Summit at Sun City on Thursday.
Energy grids worldwide have very little electricity storage capacity, said Lin. They are engineered to accommodate maximum peak usage, as when energy is produced, it has to be consumed in real time, Lin explained.
While there is a current global trend in upgrading electricity grids in a move towards using more renewable energy sources, such as wind and solar power, these resources pose challenges to the grid in that they are variable, posed Lin.
Grid storage would facilitate the storage of excess power that can be reserved and used at times when energy supply from these resources lulls, explained Lin. Grid storage would thus increase the reliability and usage capacity of renewable resources, he added.
Upping storage capacity would also increase the consistency and reliability of the grid in general, which would reassure businesses, said Lin.
While NEC is currently rolling out grid storage systems to energy providers, it is also moving towards customer-side grid storage, said Adam Briggs, VP of worldwide sales and marketing at NEC energy solutions.
Customer-side grid storage allows businesses and individual residents to take control of their energy usage, said Briggs.
NEC's grid storage solutions use batteries, which charge and discharge "hundreds of times a day" to balance the fluctuating demands of the grid, said Briggs.
Lithium-ion batteries are ideal for grid storage systems because they are smaller, lighter and several times more durable than lead-acid batteries, said Briggs. Although flow batteries are a very promising alternative for their low cost, they present safety and reliability challenges that will need to be resolved before bringing them to market, he added.