The increase in the global deployment of wind and solar generation is creating a new challenge for the energy industry: how to manage increased volatility in electricity generation. Electricity storage can help manage this volatility and create a stable and flexible power system as it allows the balance between supply and demand to be maintained at all times.
Of the many storage technologies, electrochemical storage has long been the focus of a great deal of research, given its attractive features and potential range of applications. Electrochemical storage systems fall into two groups: solid state batteries and flow batteries. Solid state batteries are known as ‘closed systems’ (where the relationship between power (kW) and energy (kWh) is fixed) and the energy is stored as an electrode. These include conventional lead acid batteries which are unsuitable for large applications and lithium-ion batteries which benefit from high efficiency and energy density but are limited by their reduced storage time, shorter lives and on-going safety concerns.
Flow batteries (redox and hybrids) are also known as ‘open systems’. In flow batteries, the energy is stored in the form of electrolytes (a solution) which circulates through cells containing the electrodes and which is stored in separate tanks. Here, power and energy are totally independent and can be customised to individual applications, offering a significant advantage over closed systems. Flow batteries are considered as being at a less mature stage of development but they are receiving a new wave of attention. At the recent Climate Change COP21 conference in Paris, Bill Gates mentioned flow batteries as a key focus area, adding that these offer greater potential compared to existing technologies. Read more…
CEO, HydraRedox Iberia
Article published in: FuturENERGY April 2016