Energy storage and its future potential
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Energy storage systems are a set of technologies that are beginning to gain strength as an ally of clean energies, since they allow the use of a greater amount of energy, which has a positive impact, mainly in the reduction of costs.
In recent years, the renewable energy industry has seen in lithium batteries the solution to its storage problem, since being one of the smallest elements in the periodic table, lithium has a high electrochemical potential and is capable of accumulating large amounts of energy. Only its high cost had prevented these batteries from becoming the main technology of this type.
The generation of small-scale electricity through distributed energy networks has a profound positive environmental impact. A total change of paradigm in the generation of electrical energy with respect to the traditional, centralized, and costly model.
However, that situation seems to be changing. According to figures from BloombergNEF, the cost of lithium-ion batteries per kW/h will fall by as much as 50% by 2030, as demand picks up in two different markets: stationary storage and electric vehicles.
This will be conducive to energy storage installations globally multiplying exponentially, from 9GW/17GWh deployed as of 2018 to 1,095GW/2,850GWh by 2040. This increase would require an estimated investment of $662 billion.
It should be noted that, electrical energy as such cannot be stored and needs to be transformed. Depending on their capacity, storage systems are divided into: large-scale storage (reversible hydroelectric (pumped storage) and thermal storage), which is used with gigawatt (GW) scales; storage in networks and generation assets (batteries, capacitors, superconductors and flywheels), which works with megawatt (MW) scales; and finally, end-user storage (batteries, superconductors and flywheels), which is used with kilowatts (kW).
Based on the above, we can say that we are facing a third Industrial Revolution, after electricity, which was the first great invention of that period in the nineteenth century and the second where different inventors turned electrical energy into an industrial activity capable of transforming history, and where, in addition to coal, other energy sources such as oil were added. Today, the revolution consists not only in the abandonment of fossil fuels and the use of renewable and/or clean energies, but also in their storage.
A world with clean energy
Different opinions exist regarding the causes of climate change: Some experts state that temperature increases are a normal part of the Earth’s cycle, whilst others interpret this phenomenon as man’s doing.
Clean energy industry grows
Expected investments for 2030 are around one trillion dollars; however, lower installation costs indicate that future investments could be higher than expected.