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PowerPedia:Energy storage

Lasted edited by Andrew Munsey, updated on June 14, 2016 at 9:19 pm.

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Energy storage (or power storage) is the storing of some form of Energy that can be drawn upon at a later time to perform some useful operation.

History

Energy storage as a natural process is billions of years old - the energy produced in the initial creation of the There was an error working with the wiki: Code[5]) or indirectly (e.g. by growing crops). As a purposeful activity, energy storage has certainly existed since pre-history, though it was often not recognized as such. An example would be the use of logs or boulders as defensive measures in ancient forts - the logs or boulders would be collected at the top of a hill, and the energy thus stored would be released as a defense against invaders. A more recent application was the control of waterways to power water mills for processing grain or powering machinery. Often complex systems of reservoirs and dams were constructed to store and release water (and the potential energy it contained) when required. Energy storage only became a major concern, however, with the introduction of Electricity generation. Unlike the other common power sources at the time, such as natural gas, electricity had to be used as it was generated. This meant that changes in demand were difficult to cater for without either cutting supplies at times, or having expensive excess capacity. An early solution was the Battery (electricity), but this is of limited use both due to its small capacity and relatively high cost. A similar solution with the same type of problems is the Capacitor.

Some areas of the world (There was an error working with the wiki: Code[6], and There was an error working with the wiki: Code[27] in the United Kingdom are examples) have used geographic features to store large quantities of water in reservoirs at the top of hills, using excess electricity at times of low demand to pump water into the reservoirs, then letting the water fall through generators to retrieve the energy when demand peaks. A number of other technologies have been investigated, but to date no widely available, affordable solution to the challenge of mass energy storage has been found.

Details of storage

Grid energy storage

Grid energy storage is the use of various There was an error working with the wiki: Code[7]. By using the grid connection, intermittent sources of power need not be installed with their own energy storage facilities. For example, a There was an error working with the wiki: Code[28] installed on a home may produce more energy than is required during the day, which can be exported to the grid at night, the needs of the home can be met from the grid, as if the solar energy had been stored locally.

Demand for There was an error working with the wiki: Code[8] power plants and There was an error working with the wiki: Code[9]. Increasingly, however, operators are storing lower-cost energy produced at night, then releasing it to the grid during the peak periods of the day when it is more valuable.

Energy storage is economical when the marginal cost of electricity varies more than the energy losses of storing and retrieving it. For instance, 1.2 gigawatt-hours might be stored at night in a pumped-storage reservoir, at a cost of 1.5 cents/kilowatt-hour. The next day, 1 gigawatt-hour might be recovered, and 200 megawatt-hours lost, and sold at 4.0 cents/kilowatt-hour, for a profit of $22,000. If this profit can be realized on most days, and if the storage facility cost less than perhaps $100M, the operator makes a profit.

The marginal cost of electricity varies because of the varying economics of different kinds of generators. At one extreme, water from a dam can go through a turbine for little more than the cost of releasing it down a spillway, so the marginal cost of generation is nearly zero. There was an error working with the wiki: Code[29]-fired and There was an error working with the wiki: Code[30]s are also low marginal cost generators, as they have high capital and maintenance costs but low fuel costs. At the other extreme, most peaking generators burn natural gas, which is expensive. Operators prefer cheaper electricity, so they run the low-marginal-cost generators most of the time, and run the more expensive ones only when necessary. This is called "economic dispatch".

Renewable supplies with prediction errors and variable production, like Wind power and Solar power, tend to increase the net variation in electric load. Because they are not dispatchable and must run when available, power from these supplies is generally sold to grid operators for less than power available on demand. As renewable supplies become increasingly popular, this difference in price opens an increasingly large economic opportunity for grid energy storage.

Reactive electrical demand

The easiest way to deal with varying electrical loads is to decrease the variation. For decades, utilities have sold off-peak power to large consumers at lower rates, to encourage these users to shift their loads to off-peak hours, in the same way that phone companies do with individual customers. Usually, these time-dependent prices are negotiated ahead of time. In an attempt to save more money, some utilities are experimenting with selling electricity to large users at minute-by-minute spot prices, which allow those users to detect demand peaks as they happen, and shift demand to save both the user and the utility money.

Pumped water storage

In many places, There was an error working with the wiki: Code[10] is used to even out the daily generating load, by pumping water to a high storage reservoir during off-peak hours and weekends, using the excess base-load capacity from coal or nuclear sources. During peak hours, this water can be used for Hydroelectric generation, often as a high value rapid-response reserve to cover transient peaks in demand. There is over 90 GW of pumped storage in operation, which is about 3% of global generation capacity. Pumped storage recovers about 80% of the energy consumed. The chief problem with pumped storage is that it usually requires two nearby reservoirs at considerably different heights, for which there are few suitable locations, and often requires considerable capital expenditure.

Compressed air storage

Another grid energy storage method is to use off-peak electricity to There was an error working with the wiki: Code[11] in There was an error working with the wiki: Code[12] or some other kind of geological feature. When electricity demand is high, the compressed air is burned with natural gas to run a turbine and generate electricity.

Thermal energy storage

Off-peak electricity can be used to make ice from water in There was an error working with the wiki: Code[31]. The ice can be stored until the next day, when it is used to cool either the air in a large building (thereby shifting that demand off-peak) or the intake air of a combustion gas turbine generator (thereby increasing the on-peak generation capacity).

Battery storage

There was an error working with the wiki: Code[13] could also be inexpensive to implement on a large scale and have been used for grid storage in Japan. There was an error working with the wiki: Code[14] and other types of There was an error working with the wiki: Code[15] are also beginning to be used for energy storage including the averaging of generation from wind turbines.

If Battery electric vehicles were in wide use with modern high cycle batteries <pesn type=, such mobile energy sinks could be utilized for their energy storage capabilities. There was an error working with the wiki: Code[32] into a load-balancing device or emergency power source.

This represents 2 to 5 days per vehicle of average household requirements of 10 kWh per day, assuming annual consumption of 3650 kWh. This quantity of energy is equivalent to between 40 and 300 miles of range in such vehicles consuming 0.5 to 0.16 kWh per mile. These figures can be achieved even in home-made There was an error working with the wiki: Code[33]s.

Flywheel storage

Mechanical inertia is the basis in There was an error working with the wiki: Code[34]. A heavy rotating disc is accelerated by an electric motor, which acts as a generator on reversal, slowing down the disc and producing electricity. Electricity is stored as the kinetic energy of the disc. Friction must be kept to a minimum to prolong the storage time. This is often achieved by placing the flywheel in a vacuum and using There was an error working with the wiki: Code[35]s, tending to make the method expensive. Larger flywheel speeds allow greater storage capacity but require strong materials such as There was an error working with the wiki: Code[36] or There was an error working with the wiki: Code[37]s to resist the There was an error working with the wiki: Code[38] forces (or rather, to provide Centripetal forces). The use of There was an error working with the wiki: Code[39]s as a flywheel material is being researched. The ranges of power and energy storage technically and economically achievable, however, tend to make flywheels unsuitable for general power system application they are probably best suited to load-levelling applications on railway power systems.

Superconducting magnetic energy storage

There was an error working with the wiki: Code[16] coil which has been There was an error working with the wiki: Code[17] cooled to a temperature below its superconducting critical temperature. A typical SMES system includes three parts: superconducting There was an error working with the wiki: Code[18]/There was an error working with the wiki: Code[40] to transform Alternating current (AC) power to direct current or convert DC back to AC power. The inverter/rectifier accounts for about 2-3% energy loss in each direction. SMES loses the least amount of Electricity in the energy storage process compared to other methods of storing energy. SMES systems are highly efficient the round-trip efficiency is greater than 95%.

Due to the energy requirements of refrigeration, and the limits in the total energy able to be stored, SMES is currently used for short duration energy storage. Therefore, SMES is most commonly devoted to improving There was an error working with the wiki: Code[19] it would be a There was an error working with the wiki: Code[20] storage device, charged from There was an error working with the wiki: Code[21] power at night and meeting peak loads during the day. The high cost of superconductors is the primary limitation for commercial use of this energy storage method.

Hydrogen fuel cells

There was an error working with the wiki: Code[22] into hydrogen and oxygen. The former process has There was an error working with the wiki: Code[41] as a by-product, which exacerbates There was an error working with the wiki: Code[42] emissions relative to present technology. With electrolysis, the greenhouse burden depends on the source of the power, and both intermittent renewables and nuclear energy are considered here.

With intermittent renewables such as solar and wind, the output may be fed directly into an electricity grid, with a penalty due to the requirement to operate some extra conventional plant on part load to allow for the fluctuations in power output. At penetrations below 20% of the grid demand, this penalty is usually small and does not severely change the economics but beyond about 20% of the total demand, the penalty may make the generated power uneconomic. If these sources are used for electricity to make hydrogen, then they can be utilized fully whenever they are available, opportunistically. Broadly speaking, it does not matter when they cut in or out, the hydrogen is simply stored and used as required.

Nuclear advocates note that using nuclear power to manufacture hydrogen would help solve plant inefficiencies. Here the plant would be run continuously at full capacity, with perhaps all the output being supplied to the grid in peak periods, and any not needed to meet demand being used to make hydrogen at other times. This would mean far better efficiency for the nuclear power plants. High temperature (950-1000°C) gas cooled nuclear reactors have the potential to split hydrogen from water by thermochemical means using nuclear heat (i.e. without using electrolysis).

About 50 kWh (180 MJ) is required to produce a kilogram of hydrogen by electrolysis, so the cost of the electricity clearly is crucial. At $0.03/kWh, common off-peak high-voltage line rate in the United States, this means hydrogen costs $1.50 a kilogram for the electricity, equivalent to $1.50 a US gallon for gasoline if used in a fuel cell vehicle. Other costs would include the electrolyzer plant, compressors, liquifaction, storage and transportation, which will be significant.

Load Levelling

The demand for electricity from consumers and industry is constantly changing, broadly within the following categories:

Seasonal (during dark winters more electric lighting and heating is required, while in other climates hot weather boosts the requirement for air conditioning)

Weekly (most industry closes at the weekend, lowering demand)

Daily (such as the peak as everyone arrives home and switches the television on)

Hourly (one method for estimating television viewing figures in the United Kingdom is to measure the power spike when advertisements are shown and everyone goes to switch the kettle on)

Transient (fluctuations due to individual's actions, differences in power transmission efficiency and other small factors that need to be accounted for)

There are currently three main methods for dealing with changing demand:

Electrical devices generally having a working Voltage range that they require, commonly 110-120V or 220-240V. Minor variations in load are automatically smoothed by slight variations in the voltage available across the system.

Power plants can be run below their normal output, with the facility to increase the amount they generate almost instantaneously. This is termed 'Spinning Reserve'.

Additional power plants can be brought online to provide a larger generating capacity. Typically, these would be combustion gas turbines, which can be started in a matter of minutes.

The problem with relying on these last two methods in particular is that they are expensive, because they leave expensive generating equipment unused much of the time, and because plants running below maximum output usually produce at less than their best efficiency. Grid energy storage is used to shift load from peak to off-peak hours. Power plants are able to run closer to their peak efficiency for much of the year.

Portability

This is the area of greatest success for current energy storage technologies. Single-use and rechargeable batteries are ubiquitous, and provide power for devices with demands as varied as digital watches and cars. Advances in battery technology have generally been slow, however, with much of the advance in battery life that consumers see being attributable to efficient power management rather than increased storage capacity. This has become an issue as pressure grows for alternatives to the Internal combustion engine in cars and other means of transport. These uses require far more There was an error working with the wiki: Code[43] (the amount of energy stored in a given volume or weight) than current battery technology can deliver. Liquid Hydrocarbon fuel (such as There was an error working with the wiki: Code[44],ethanol/There was an error working with the wiki: Code[45] and Diesel) have much higher energy densities.

Reliability

Virtually all devices that operate on electricity are adversely affected by the sudden removal of their power supply. Solutions such as UPS (There was an error working with the wiki: Code[23]) or backup generators are available, but these are expensive. Efficient methods of power storage would allow for devices to have a built-in backup for power cuts, and also reduce the impact of a failure in a generating station. Examples of this are currently available using Fuel cells and flywheels.

Storage methods

Electrochemical

Battery (electricity)

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Electrical

Capacitor

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Mechanical

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Potential (Gravity)

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Thermal

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Related concepts

List of energy topics

Energy

Distributed generation

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Flywheels

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External articles and references

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Electricity storage technologies

Graphical comparisons of different energy storage systems:

System power ratings

Energy density

Cost per unit

Efficiency

Capital cost per cycle

A large grid-connected nickel-cadmium battery

U.S. Dept of Energy - Energy Storage Systems Government research center on energy storage technology.

Electricity Storage Association Good comparison of technologies.

Energy Storage: A Nontechnical Guide Good book on energy storage technologies and applications.

There was an error working with the wiki: Code[1], Wikipedia: The Free Encyclopedia. Wikimedia Foundation.

See also

- PowerPedia

- Main Page

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