Is energy storage right for your workspace?

October 2, 2019

Battery pack in battery room in power plant for supply electricity in plant during shutdown phase, Rows of batteries in industrial backup power system.

Rechargeable batteries are the most common example of energy storage. This chemical energy is readily converted into electricity; a good example is a mobile phone battery. Basically, energy storage involves converting energy from forms that are difficult to store, to more convenient or economically storable forms. 

What is energy storage? It is the capture of energy produced at one time for use at a later time. Some technologies provide short-term energy storage, while others can endure for much longer. And this practice is becoming more and more common, therefore, Forbes Magazine includes energy storage as one of the renewable energy trends to watch in 2019.

Energy storage plays an important role in balancing power supply and demand, and is the key to tackling the intermittency issues of renewable energy, according to the magazine. Also, experts said energy storage technologies are expected to continue to improve, making their use more viable and affordable.

Energy can be stored in a variety of ways, including:

  • Pumped hydroelectric
  • Compressed air
  • Flywheels
  • Batteries
  • Thermal energy storage

The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) explains the electric power grid operates based on a delicate balance between supply (generation) and demand (consumer use). One way to help balance fluctuations in electricity supply and demand is to store electricity during periods of relatively high production and low demand, then release it back to the electric power grid during periods of lower production or higher demand.

According to the U.S. Department of Energy, the United States had more than 25 gigawatts of electrical energy storage capacity of March of 2018. Of that total, 94 percent was in the form of pumped hydroelectric storage. The other six percent of storage capacity is in the form of batteries, thermal storage, compressed air, and Flywheel.

Industry changes are driving demand for energy storage, while policy, technology, and cost advances are making it a more attractive option, as explained in the U.S. Department of Energy report Better Buildings. Energy storage has many applications, but only a few are relevant to commercial and institutional buildings.

What can energy storage do?

  • Electricity cost optimization
  • Capacity – generation resource adequacy
  • Routine grid operations – frequency regulation, renewable energy ramping and smoothing
  • Contingency situations – sustained and momentary outages

For more information on these and other energy efficiency solutions, contact Vanguard Resources.