Energy storage is the capture of energy produced at one time for use at a later time. A device that stores energy is generally called an accumulator or battery. Energy comes in multiple forms including radiation, chemical, gravitational potential, electrical potential, electricity, elevated temperature, latent heat and kinetic. Energy storage involves converting energy from forms that are difficult to store to more conveniently or economically storable forms.
Some technologies provide short-term energy storage, while others can endure for much longer. Bulk energy storage is currently dominated by hydroelectric dams, both conventional as well as pumped.
Common examples of energy storage are the rechargeable battery, which stores chemical energy readily convertible to electricity to operate a mobile phone, the hydroelectric dam, which stores energy in a reservoir as gravitational potential energy, and ice storage tanks, which store ice frozen by cheaper energy at night to meet peak daytime demand for cooling. Fossil fuels such as coal and gasoline store ancient energy derived from sunlight by organisms that later died, became buried and over time were then converted into these fuels. Food (which is made by the same process as fossil fuels) is a form of energy stored in chemical form.
The following list includes a variety of types of energy storage:
Fossil fuel storage
Compressed air energy storage (CAES)
Flywheel energy storage
Gravitational potential energy
Pumped-storage hydroelectricity (pumped hydroelectric storage, PHS, or pumped storage hydropower, PSH)
Superconducting magnetic energy storage (SMES, also superconducting storage coil)
Electrochemical (Battery Energy Storage System, BESS)
Brick storage heater
Cryogenic energy storage, Liquid air energy storage (LAES)
Liquid nitrogen engine
Ice storage air conditioning
Molten salt storage
Seasonal thermal energy storage
Thermal energy storage (general)
Power to gas
Energy can be stored in water pumped to a higher elevation using pumped storage methods or by moving solid matter to higher locations (gravity batteries). Other commercial mechanical methods include compressing air and flywheels that convert electric energy into kinetic energy and then back again when electrical demand peaks.
Hydroelectric dams with reservoirs can be operated to provide electricity at times of peak demand. Water is stored in the reservoir during periods of low demand and released when demand is high. The net effect is similar to pumped storage, but without the pumping loss.
While a hydroelectric dam does not directly store energy from other generating units, it behaves equivalently by lowering output in periods of excess electricity from other sources. In this mode, dams are one of the most efficient forms of energy storage, because only the timing of its generation changes. Hydroelectric turbines have a start-up time on the order of a few minutes.
Worldwide, pumped-storage hydroelectricity (PSH) is the largest-capacity form of active grid energy storage available, and, as of March 2012, the Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI) reports that PSH accounts for more than 99% of bulk storage capacity worldwide, representing around 127,000 MW. PSH energy efficiency varies in practice between 70% and 80%, with claims of up to 87%.
At times of low electrical demand, excess generation capacity is used to pump water from a lower source into a higher reservoir. When demand grows, water is released back into a lower reservoir (or waterway or body of water) through a turbine, generating electricity. Reversible turbine-generator assemblies act as both a pump and turbine (usually a Francis turbine design). Nearly all facilities use the height difference between two water bodies. Pure pumped-storage plants shift the water between reservoirs, while the “pump-back” approach is a combination of pumped storage and conventional hydroelectric plants that use natural stream-flow.
Compressed air energy storage (CAES) uses surplus energy to compress air for subsequent electricity generation. Small scale systems have long been used in such applications as propulsion of mine locomotives. The compressed air is stored in an underground reservoir, as a salt dome.
Compressed-air energy storage (CAES) plants can bridge the gap between production volatility and load. CAES storage addresses the energy needs of consumers by effectively providing readily available energy to meet demand. Renewable energy sources like wind and solar energy have variable resources. As a result, the supplement of other forms of energy is necessary to meet energy demand during periods of decreased resource availability. Compressed-air energy storage plants are capable of taking in the surplus energy output of renewable energy sources during times of energy over-production. This stored energy can be used at a later time when demand for electricity increases or energy resource availability decreases.
Compression of air creates heat; the air is warmer after compression. Expansion requires heat. If no extra heat is added, the air will be much colder after expansion. If the heat generated during compression can be stored and used during expansion, efficiency improves considerably. A CAES system can deal with the heat in three ways. Air storage can be adiabatic, diabatic, or isothermal. Another approach uses compressed air to power vehicles.
Flywheel energy storage
Flywheel energy storage (FES) works by accelerating a rotor (flywheel) to a very high speed, holding energy as rotational energy. When energy is extracted, the flywheel’s rotational speed declines as a consequence of conservation of energy; adding energy correspondingly results in an increase in the speed of the flywheel.
Most FES systems use electricity to accelerate and decelerate the flywheel, but devices that directly use mechanical energy are under consideration.
FES systems have rotors made of high strength carbon-fiber composites, suspended by magnetic bearings and spinning at speeds from 20,000 to over 50,000 rpm in a vacuum enclosure. Such flywheels can reach maximum speed (“charge”) in a matter of minutes. The flywheel system is connected to a combination electric motor/generator.
FES systems have relatively long lifetimes (lasting decades with little or no maintenance; full-cycle lifetimes quoted for flywheels range from in excess of 105, up to 107, cycles of use), high specific energy (100–130 W•h/kg, or 360–500 kJ/kg) and power density.
Gravitational potential energy storage with solid masses
Changing the altitude of solid masses can store or release energy via an elevating system driven by an electric motor/generator. Potential energy storage or gravity energy storage was under active development in 2013 in association with the California Independent System Operator. It examined the movement of earth-filled hopper rail cars driven by electric locomotives) from lower to higher elevations.
Methods include using rails and cranes to move concrete weights up and down, using high-altitude solar-powered buoyant platforms supporting winches to raise and lower solid masses, using winches supported by an ocean barge for taking advantage of a 4 km (13,000 ft) elevation difference between the surface and the seabed. Efficiencies can be as high as 85% recovery of stored energy.
Thermal energy storage (TES) is the temporary storage or removal of heat.
Sensible heat thermal energy storage
Sensible heat storage take advantage of sensible heat in a material to store energy.
Seasonal thermal energy storage (STES) allows heat or cold to be used months after it was collected from waste energy or natural sources. The material can be stored in contained aquifers, clusters of boreholes in geological substrates such as sand or crystalline bedrock, in lined pits filled with gravel and water, or water-filled mines. Seasonal thermal energy storage (STES) projects often have paybacks in the four-to-six year range. An example is Drake Landing Solar Community in Canada, for which 97% of the year-round heat is provided by solar-thermal collectors on the garage roofs, with a borehole thermal energy store (BTES) being the enabling technology. In Braestrup, Denmark, the community’s solar district heating system also utilizes STES, at a storage temperature of 65 °C (149 °F). A heat pump, which is run only when there is surplus wind power available on the national grid, is used to raise the temperature to 80 °C (176 °F) for distribution. When surplus wind generated electricity is not available, a gas-fired boiler is used. Twenty percent of Braestrup’s heat is solar.
Latent heat thermal energy storage (LHTES)
Latent heat thermal energy storage systems works with materials with high latent heat (heat of fusion) capacity, known as phase change materials (PCMs). The main advantage of these materials is that their latent heat storage capacity is much more than sensible heat. In a specific temperature range, phase changes from solid to liquid absorbs a large amount of thermal energy for later use.
Latent-heat thermal energy storage consists of a process by which, energy in the form of heat, is either absorbed or released during the phase-change of a phase change material (PCM). A PCM is a material with a high heat of fusion. A phase-change is the melting or solidifying of a material. During a phase change, a PCM has the capacity to absorb large amounts of energy due to its high heat of fusion.
A rechargeable battery, comprises one or more electrochemical cells. It is known as a ‘secondary cell’ because its electrochemical reactions are electrically reversible. Rechargeable batteries come in many different shapes and sizes, ranging from button cells to megawatt grid systems.
Rechargeable batteries have lower total cost of use and environmental impact than non-rechargeable (disposable) batteries. Some rechargeable battery types are available in the same form factors as disposables. Rechargeable batteries have higher initial cost but can be recharged very cheaply and used many times.
Common rechargeable battery chemistries include:
Lead–acid battery: Lead acid batteries hold the largest market share of electric storage products. A single cell produces about 2V when charged. In the charged state the metallic lead negative electrode and the lead sulfate positive electrode are immersed in a dilute sulfuric acid (H2SO4) electrolyte. In the discharge process electrons are pushed out of the cell as lead sulfate is formed at the negative electrode while the electrolyte is reduced to water.
Lead-acid battery technology has been developed extensively. Upkeep requires minimal labor and its cost is low. The battery’s available energy capacity is subject to a quick discharge resulting in a low life span and low energy density.
Nickel–cadmium battery (NiCd): Uses nickel oxide hydroxide and metallic cadmium as electrodes. Cadmium is a toxic element, and was banned for most uses by the European Union in 2004. Nickel–cadmium batteries have been almost completely replaced by nickel–metal hydride (NiMH) batteries.
Nickel–metal hydride battery (NiMH): First commercial types were available in 1989. These are now a common consumer and industrial type. The battery has a hydrogen-absorbing alloy for the negative electrode instead of cadmium.
Lithium-ion battery: The choice in many consumer electronics and have one of the best energy-to-mass ratios and a very slow self-discharge when not in use.
Lithium-ion polymer battery: These batteries are light in weight and can be made in any shape desired.
A flow battery operates by passing a solution over a membrane where ions are exchanged to charge/discharge the cell. Cell voltage is chemically determined by the Nernst equation and ranges, in practical applications, from 1.0 to 2.2 V. Its storage capacity is a function of the volume of the tanks holding the solution.
A flow battery is technically akin both to a fuel cell and an electrochemical accumulator cell. Commercial applications are for long half-cycle storage such as backup grid power.
Supercapacitors, also called electric double-layer capacitors (EDLC) or ultracapacitors, are generic terms for a family of electrochemical capacitors that do not have conventional solid dielectrics. Capacitance is determined by two storage principles, double-layer capacitance and pseudocapacitance.
Supercapacitors bridge the gap between conventional capacitors and rechargeable batteries. They store the most energy per unit volume or mass (energy density) among capacitors. They support up to 10,000 farads/1.2 volt, up to 10,000 times that of electrolytic capacitors, but deliver or accept less than half as much power per unit time (power density).
While supercapacitors have specific energy and energy densities that are approximately 10% of batteries, their power density is generally 10 to 100 times greater. This results in much shorter charge/discharge cycles. Additionally, they will tolerate many more charge and discharge cycles than batteries.
Supercapacitors support a broad spectrum of applications, including:
Low supply current for memory backup in static random-access memory (SRAM)
Power for cars, buses, trains, cranes and elevators, including energy recovery from braking, short-term energy storage and burst-mode power delivery
Power to gas
Power to gas is a technology which converts electricity into a gaseous fuel such as hydrogen or methane. The three commercial methods use electricity to reduce water into hydrogen and oxygen by means of electrolysis.
In the first method, hydrogen is injected into the natural gas grid or is used in transport or industry. The second method is to combine the hydrogen with carbon dioxide to produce methane using a methanation reaction such as the Sabatier reaction, or biological methanation, resulting in an extra energy conversion loss of 8%. The methane may then be fed into the natural gas grid. The third method uses the output gas of a wood gas generator or a biogas plant, after the biogas upgrader is mixed with the hydrogen from the electrolyzer, to upgrade the quality of the biogas.
The element hydrogen can be a form of stored energy. Hydrogen can produce electricity via a hydrogen fuel cell.
At penetrations below 20% of the grid demand, renewables do not severely change the economics; but beyond about 20% of the total demand, external storage becomes important. If these sources are used to make ionic hydrogen, they can be freely expanded. A 5-year community-based pilot program using wind turbines and hydrogen generators began in 2007 in the remote community of Ramea, Newfoundland and Labrador. A similar project began in 2004 on Utsira, a small Norwegian island.
Energy losses involved in the hydrogen storage cycle come from the electrolysis of water, liquification or compression of the hydrogen and conversion to electricity.
About 50 kW•h (180 MJ) of solar energy is required to produce a kilogram of hydrogen, so the cost of the electricity is crucial. At $0.03/kWh, a common off-peak high-voltage line rate in the United States, hydrogen costs $1.50 a kilogram for the electricity, equivalent to $1.50/gallon for gasoline. Other costs include the electrolyzer plant, hydrogen compressors or liquefaction, storage and transportation.
Hydrogen can also be produced from aluminum and water by stripping aluminum’s naturally-occurring aluminum oxide barrier and introducing it to water. This method is beneficial because recycled aluminum cans can be used as fuel to generate hydrogen, however systems to harness this option have not been commercially developed and are much more complex than electrolysis systems. Common methods to strip the oxide layer include caustic catalysts such as sodium hydroxide and alloys with gallium, mercury and other metals.
Underground hydrogen storage is the practice of hydrogen storage in underground caverns, salt domes and depleted oil and gas fields. Large quantities of gaseous hydrogen have been stored in underground caverns by Imperial Chemical Industries for many years without any difficulties. The European Hyunder project indicated in 2013 that storage of wind and solar energy using underground hydrogen would require 85 caverns.
Methane is the simplest hydrocarbon with the molecular formula CH4. Methane is more easily stored and transported than hydrogen. Storage and combustion infrastructure (pipelines, gasometers, power plants) are mature.
Synthetic natural gas (syngas or SNG) can be created in a multi-step process, starting with hydrogen and oxygen. Hydrogen is then reacted with carbon dioxide in a Sabatier process, producing methane and water. Methane can be stored and later used to produce electricity. The resulting water is recycled, reducing the need for water. In the electrolysis stage oxygen is stored for methane combustion in a pure oxygen environment at an adjacent power plant, eliminating nitrogen oxides.
Methane combustion produces carbon dioxide (CO2) and water. The carbon dioxide can be recycled to boost the Sabatier process and water can be recycled for further electrolysis. Methane production, storage and combustion recycles the reaction products.
The CO2 has economic value as a component of an energy storage vector, not a cost as in carbon capture and storage.
Power to liquid
Power to liquid is similar to power to gas, however the hydrogen produced by electrolysis from wind and solar electricity isn’t converted into gases such as methane but into liquids such as methanol. Methanol is easier to handle than gases, and requires fewer safety precautions than hydrogen. It can be used for transportation, including aircraft, but also for industrial purposes or in the power sector.
Various biofuels such as biodiesel, vegetable oil, alcohol fuels, or biomass can replace fossil fuels. Various chemical processes can convert the carbon and hydrogen in coal, natural gas, plant and animal biomass and organic wastes into short hydrocarbons suitable as replacements for existing hydrocarbon fuels. Examples are Fischer–Tropsch diesel, methanol, dimethyl ether and syngas. This diesel source was used extensively in World War II in Germany, which faced limited access to crude oil supplies. South Africa produces most of the country’s diesel from coal for similar reasons. A long term oil price above US$35/bbl may make such large scale synthetic liquid fuels economical.
Aluminum has been proposed as an energy storage method by a number of researchers. The volume electrochemical equivalent of aluminum (8.04 Ah/cm3) is nearly a factor of four greater than lithium (2.06 Ah/cm3). Energy can be extracted from aluminum by reacting it with water to generate hydrogen. To react with water, however, aluminum must be stripped of its natural oxide layer, a process which requires pulverization, chemical reactions with caustic substances, or alloys. The byproduct of the reaction to create hydrogen is aluminum oxide, which can be recycled back into aluminum with the Hall–Héroult process, making the reaction theoretically renewable. If the Hall-Heroult Process is run using solar or wind power, aluminum could be used to store the energy produced at higher efficiency than direct solar electrolysis.
Boron, silicon, and zinc
Boron, silicon, and zinc have been proposed as energy storage solutions.
The organic compound norbornadiene converts to quadricyclane upon exposure to light, storing solar energy as the energy of chemical bonds. A working system has been developed in Sweden as a molecular solar thermal system.
A capacitor (originally known as a ‘condenser’) is a passive two-terminal electrical component used to store energy electrostatically. Practical capacitors vary widely, but all contain at least two electrical conductors (plates) separated by a dielectric (i.e., insulator). A capacitor can store electric energy when disconnected from its charging circuit, so it can be used like a temporary battery, or like other types of rechargeable energy storage system. Capacitors are commonly used in electronic devices to maintain power supply while batteries change. (This prevents loss of information in volatile memory.) Conventional capacitors provide less than 360 joules per kilogram, while a conventional alkaline battery has a density of 590 kJ/kg.
Capacitors store energy in an electrostatic field between their plates. Given a potential difference across the conductors (e.g., when a capacitor is attached across a battery), an electric field develops across the dielectric, causing positive charge (+Q) to collect on one plate and negative charge (-Q) to collect on the other plate. If a battery is attached to a capacitor for a sufficient amount of time, no current can flow through the capacitor. However, if an accelerating or alternating voltage is applied across the leads of the capacitor, a displacement current can flow. Besides capacitor plates, charge can also be stored in a dielectric layer.
Capacitance is greater given a narrower separation between conductors and when the conductors have a larger surface area. In practice, the dielectric between the plates emits a small amount of leakage current and has an electric field strength limit, known as the breakdown voltage. However, the effect of recovery of a dielectric after a high-voltage breakdown holds promise for a new generation of self-healing capacitors. The conductors and leads introduce undesired inductance and resistance.
Research is assessing the quantum effects of nanoscale capacitors for digital quantum batteries.
Superconducting magnetic energy storage (SMES) systems store energy in a magnetic field created by the flow of direct current in a superconducting coil that has been cooled to a temperature below its superconducting critical temperature. A typical SMES system includes a superconducting coil, power conditioning system and refrigerator. Once the superconducting coil is charged, the current does not decay and the magnetic energy can be stored indefinitely.
The stored energy can be released to the network by discharging the coil. The associated 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 offer round-trip efficiency greater than 95%.
Due to the energy requirements of refrigeration and the cost of superconducting wire, SMES is used for short duration storage such as improving power quality. It also has applications in grid balancing.
The classic application before the industrial revolution was the control of waterways to drive water mills for processing grain or powering machinery. Complex systems of reservoirs and dams were constructed to store and release water (and the potential energy it contained) when required.
Home energy storage
Home energy storage is expected to become increasingly common given the growing importance of distributed generation of renewable energies (especially photovoltaics) and the important share of energy consumption in buildings. To exceed a self-sufficiency of 40% in a household equipped with photovoltaics, energy storage is needed. Multiple manufacturers produce rechargeable battery systems for storing energy, generally to hold surplus energy from home solar/wind generation. Today, for home energy storage, Li-ion batteries are preferable to lead-acid ones given their similar cost but much better performance.
Tesla Motors produces two models of the Tesla Powerwall. One is a 10 kWh weekly cycle version for backup applications and the other is a 7 kWh version for daily cycle applications. In 2016, a limited version of the Telsa Powerpack 2 cost $398(US)/kWh to store electricity worth 12.5 cents/kWh (US average grid price) making a positive return on investment doubtful unless electricity prices are higher than 30 cents/kWh.
Enphase Energy announced an integrated system that allows home users to store, monitor and manage electricity. The system stores 1.2 kWh hours of energy and 275W/500W power output.
Storing wind or solar energy using thermal energy storage though less flexible, is considerably less expensive than batteries. A simple 52-gallon electric water heater can store roughly 12 kWh of energy for supplementing hot water or space heating.
For purely financial purposes in areas where net metering is available, home generated electricity may be sold to the grid through a grid-tie inverter without the use of batteries for storage.
Grid electricity and power stations
Renewable energy storage
The largest source and the greatest store of renewable energy is provided by hydroelectric dams. A large reservoir behind a dam can store enough water to average the annual flow of a river between dry and wet seasons. A very large reservoir can store enough water to average the flow of a river between dry and wet years. While a hydroelectric dam does not directly store energy from intermittent sources, it does balance the grid by lowering its output and retaining its water when power is generated by solar or wind. If wind or solar generation exceeds the regions hydroelectric capacity, then some additional source of energy will be needed.
Many renewable energy sources (notably solar and wind) produce variable power. Storage systems can level out the imbalances between supply and demand that this causes. Electricity must be used as it is generated or converted immediately into storable forms.
The main method of electrical grid storage is pumped-storage hydroelectricity. Areas of the world such as Norway, Wales, Japan and the US have used elevated geographic features for reservoirs, using electrically powered pumps to fill them. When needed, the water passes through generators and converts the gravitational potential of the falling water into electricity. Pumped storage in Norway, which gets almost all its electricity from hydro, has currently a capacity of 1.4 GW but since the total installed capacity is nearly 32 GW and 75% of that is regulable, it can be expanded significantly.
Some forms of storage that produce electricity include pumped-storage hydroelectric dams, rechargeable batteries, thermal storage including molten salts which can efficiently store and release very large quantities of heat energy, and compressed air energy storage, flywheels, cryogenic systems and superconducting magnetic coils.
Surplus power can also be converted into methane (sabatier process) with stockage in the natural gas network.
In 2011, the Bonneville Power Administration in Northwestern United States created an experimental program to absorb excess wind and hydro power generated at night or during stormy periods that are accompanied by high winds. Under central control, home appliances absorb surplus energy by heating ceramic bricks in special space heaters to hundreds of degrees and by boosting the temperature of modified hot water heater tanks. After charging, the appliances provide home heating and hot water as needed. The experimental system was created as a result of a severe 2010 storm that overproduced renewable energy to the extent that all conventional power sources were shut down, or in the case of a nuclear power plant, reduced to its lowest possible operating level, leaving a large area running almost completely on renewable energy.
Another advanced method used at the former Solar Two project in the United States and the Solar Tres Power Tower in Spain uses molten salt to store thermal energy captured from the sun and then convert it and dispatch it as electrical power. The system pumps molten salt through a tower or other special conduits to be heated by the sun. Insulated tanks store the solution. Electricity is produced by turning water to steam that is fed to turbines.
Since the early 21st century batteries have been applied to utility scale load-leveling and frequency regulation capabilities.
In vehicle-to-grid storage, electric vehicles that are plugged into the energy grid can deliver stored electrical energy from their batteries into the grid when needed.
Thermal energy storage (TES) can be used for air conditioning. It is most widely used for cooling single large buildings and/or groups of smaller buildings. Commercial air conditioning systems are the biggest contributors to peak electrical loads. In 2009, thermal storage was used in over 3,300 buildings in over 35 countries. It works by creating ice at night and using the ice to for cooling during the hotter daytime periods.
The most popular technique is ice storage, which requires less space than water and is less costly than fuel cells or flywheels. In this application, a standard chiller runs at night to produce an ice pile. Water then circulates through the pile during the day to chill water that would normally be the chiller’s daytime output.
A partial storage system minimizes capital investment by running the chillers nearly 24 hours a day. At night, they produce ice for storage and during the day they chill water. Water circulating through the melting ice augments the production of chilled water. Such a system makes ice for 16 to 18 hours a day and melts ice for six hours a day. Capital expenditures are reduced because the chillers can be just 40 – 50% of the size needed for a conventional, no-storage design. Storage sufficient to store half a day’s available heat is usually adequate.
A full storage system shuts off the chillers during peak load hours. Capital costs are higher, as such a system requires larger chillers and a larger ice storage system.
This ice is produced when electrical utility rates are lower. Off-peak cooling systems can lower energy costs. The U.S. Green Building Council has developed the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) program to encourage the design of reduced-environmental impact buildings. Off-peak cooling may help toward LEED Certification.
Thermal storage for heating is less common than for cooling. An example of thermal storage is storing solar heat to be used for heating at night.
Latent heat can also be stored in technical phase change materials (PCMs). These can be encapsulated in wall and ceiling panels, to moderate room temperatures.
Liquid hydrocarbon fuels are the most commonly used forms of energy storage for use in transportation, followed by a growing use of Battery Electric Vehicles and Hybrid Electric Vehicles. Other energy carriers such as hydrogen can be used to avoid producing greenhouse gases.
Public transport systems like trams and trolleybuses require electricity, but due to their variability in movement, a steady supply of electricity via renewable energy is challenging. Photovoltaic systems installed on the roofs of buildings can be used to power public transportation systems during periods in which there is increased demand for electricity and access to other forms of energy are not readily available.
Capacitors are widely used in electronic circuits for blocking direct current while allowing alternating current to pass. In analog filter networks, they smooth the output of power supplies. In resonant circuits they tune radios to particular frequencies. In electric power transmission systems they stabilize voltage and power flow.
Source from Wikipedia