At a recent forum held at the University of Chicago, James Greenberger of The Energy Collective was intrigued by some of the statements made about energy storage by the renewable energies industry.
Although the representatives of the wind, solar and other renewables industries were polite and nominally supportive of storage, they were consistent in their message that storage has a long way to go and that it was certainly nowhere near as important as the renewable energy technologies they were advocating.
What was even more interesting is how little the storage industry defended itself. Instead, Greenberger took this opportunity to discuss the importance of energy storage in the world of renewable energies.
For however much flexibility wind and solar technology may offer to grid operators, energy storage technology offers more. The ability to move electrons over time as well as over space opens a world of opportunities as to how that ability can be used and how the grid can be designed. Storage can be used to alter the balance of generation technologies, favoring those that are cleaner or otherwise deemed more favorable over those that are not. Storage can reduce the need for physical grid infrastructure, promoting energy efficiency, reducing O&M costs and improving viewscapes. Energy storage can reduce the cycling of thermal plant, provide greater power security, enable distributed generation, allow the development of microgrids, and facilitate a wide variety of other possibilities on the grid, the benefits of which may be difficult fully to understand today.
While renewable energy generation is important, being able to store the energy that is generated is necessary for renewable energy to be viable. This is why investment in energy storage technology should be just as much a priority as the renewable energy technologies in order to create the most robust, and most flexible renewable energy solution possible.