The latest developments in energy storage technologies have the potential to help integrate more renewable energy into the grid and reduce reliance on fossil fuels.
As the world transitions to cleaner, more sustainable sources of energy, the role of energy storage has become increasingly important. From batteries being essential in electric cars to energy stored in solar panels, after the sun is not shining or wind stops blowing. But, batteries are not the only advancement. On the list you will find hydro power, thermal storage and emerging technologies, such as artificial intelligence and machine learning. Keep reading to discover how they will transform the energy sector.
The most well-known and often utilised energy storage technology, batteries have advanced significantly in recent years. Particularly lithium-ion batteries have significantly increased in energy density and decreased in price, making them a preferred option for grid-scale applications and electric vehicles.
To create new battery types with even greater performance and longevity, research is still being done. For instance, flow batteries that utilise liquid electrolytes could offer longer-lasting storage for grid applications, while solid-state batteries that employ a solid electrolyte instead of a liquid one might offer superior energy density and safety.
To find out more about the importance of batteries in the renewable energy transition, read this article.
A form of renewable energy called hydropower, also referred to as hydroelectric power, uses the natural flow of flowing water to produce electricity. It is one of the primary energy sources supporting the transition to a green economy.
To generate the hydro power, it can be done with hydropower plants. Pumped hydro storage is a well-known technology that has been used for decades to store energy. It works by pushing water uphill to a reservoir and releasing it through a turbine to generate electricity when it is needed. With a capacity of more than 170 GW globally, it is one of the most affordable and efficient energy storage technologies, while having limits in terms of location and the availability of suitable locations.
Thermal energy can be stored in a substance like water or molten salt through a process known as thermal storage. Solar panels, industrial process waste heat, heat produced by burning biomass or other fuels, and other heat-producing devices can all be used to capture this energy. The thermal energy that was previously stored can now be utilised to generate power, heat structures, among other things. Buildings and industrial operations benefit greatly from thermal storage technologies, which employ heat or cold to store energy.
In another article, we were focusing on geothermal energy (sometimes known as Earth’s heat) which is a type of thermal energy but differs in terms of sources and applications. Geothermal energy is a naturally occurring source of heat that may be used by using specialised technology, whereas thermal storage is a means to store heat energy from various sources. Though they differ from one another, both technologies have the potential to offer renewable and sustainable energy sources.
In addition to these well-established technologies, there are a few new energy storage developments that have a lot of potential. One such development is the use of machine learning and artificial intelligence to enhance the performance of energy storage devices, such as battery optimisation, predictive maintenance to analyse data from AI and ML algorithms as well as energy management and forecasting. Another is the creation of “hybrid” energy storage systems, which mix various technologies, such thermal storage and batteries, to offer a variety of advantages and boost overall efficiency.
Energy storage future
As the world continues to transition to a cleaner, more sustainable energy future, energy storage will play an increasingly important role. In the future, there will be more and more technologically advanced solutions. From batteries to pumped hydro storage to emerging technologies, there are a variety of solutions that can help harness renewable energy and reduce our reliance on fossil fuels.
To find out more about trends impacting organisations, check out our list of top 8 decisive technology trends in 2023.