Storage Renewable Energy
Storage Renewable Energy – Published in the April 2022 issue of Physical World under the headline “The Challenge of Renewable Energy.” Members of the Institute of Physics can view the full issue through the World of Physics app.
Peter Edwards, Peter Dobson and Gary Owen argue that net zero targets can only be achieved if renewable energy can be sustainably sourced.
Storage Renewable Energy
Lack of storage InterGen’s battery facility, currently under construction on the River Thames, will be the UK’s largest with a capacity of 1GWh. The UK needs 5 TWt of storage to support renewables. (Courtesy: InterGen)
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On September 16, 1910, Reginald A. Fessenden, a Canadian inventor known for his work in radio technology, published an article on energy conservation in The Electrician. “The commercial use of solar radiation, wind and other intermittent natural resources for energy production is two-fold.” “Energy from renewable sources must first be properly charged and available in a timely manner.”
Fessenden’s observations remain relevant today as we try to mitigate the effects of climate change. That’s because many countries will reduce their dependence on fossil fuels by increasing renewable energy production, whether it’s solar, wind or hydro. Given that most European countries depend on Russian fossil fuels, this trend toward green energy could accelerate after Ukraine’s departure in late February, which led to a series of economic sanctions and measures against the Russian economy.
We can expect future electricity generation in the UK to be based on variable renewable energy. This will be powered mainly by wind and solar, possibly nuclear. Unlike fossil fuel and nuclear generation, such renewable energies produce less energy than needed, and the shortage of daytime electricity generated at night is an emergency. So one of the biggest challenges for renewables will be dealing with periods of “no sun and no wind”.
The German word Dunkelflaute (meaning dark stillness) captures this situation beautifully. During periods of excess production, for example during favorable wind conditions, it is necessary to store the renewable electricity produced for the next inevitable Dunkelflaut periods. But it is not easy. Through detailed research into future energy storage needs and costs, we know it’s not cheap.
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Sufficient renewable generation capacity will be needed before Dunkelflute to ensure the availability of stored electricity during that time. For example, on a cold winter’s day in the UK, the country needs at least 40 GW of electricity, which is 1 terawatt hour (TWh). Assuming that half comes from variable renewable sources and the remaining 50% comes from non-renewable gas, nuclear and biomass sources on Dunkelflaute’s critical day, we would need to save 0.5 TWt.
For 10 days in a row at Dunkelflaute, the situation is even more difficult – apart from a typical English winter – we would need 5 TWh of battery storage. To give you an idea of the cost, we know that energy company InterGen is currently building a 1GWh lithium-ion battery storage facility at DP World London Gateway, a new port on the Thames Estuary in southeast England. It would cost about 300 million euros to build, so a simple extrapolation means that 5 TWt of capacity would cost 1.5 trillion euros. If we rely entirely on renewable electricity, the corresponding cost of battery storage will be £3 trillion. Of course this is impossible, what else can we do?
Lithium-ion technology has remained the benchmark for batteries since its discovery four decades ago. Some expect that battery prices will continue to fall as they have for the past two decades, or that a new type of low-cost battery technology will inevitably emerge in the coming years. However, there is a global shortage of lithium to power large-scale batteries when cobalt, a stabilizing material used in lithium-ion batteries, is produced.
Another storage option is hydrogen produced by electrolysis from renewable energy production. It can be converted to electricity using fuel cells or internal combustion engines and can be used in a number of manufacturing processes. A number of large hydrogen projects are underway in the UK, but given the unknown costs of the associated conversion technologies and the different applications, it is difficult to compare the cost of hydrogen with other large-scale storage technologies.
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However, Dunkelflaute’s events can be evaluated in some ways. Assuming the storage mechanism is hydrogen and converted to electricity through a combination of fuel cells and internal combustion engines with an overall efficiency of 50%, 10 TWt of stored energy would be needed to produce half of that. energy. our electricity. from renewable sources. Using 50 kilowatt-hours per kilogram for the efficiency of the electrolyzer, this equates to approximately 200 million kilograms of hydrogen. So £2 per kilogram would be around £400 million. Assuming the equivalent costs of converting hydrogen into electricity, there is about 800 million euros to store and generate for each 10-day Dunkelflaut period. If there is a two-year period and the electrolyzers and motors last for 30 years, the total cost is about 50 billion euros.
Clean carbon targets require that almost all energy be supplied by renewable electricity. Finding ways to store renewable energy in the Dunkelflaut era is therefore crucial, but governments around the world often ignore this obvious issue. The cost of hydrogen-powered battery storage or energy storage is prohibitive, and even as battery costs decrease, big questions remain about the space, safety, and security of these storage facilities. Urgent decisions are needed in the future, as electricity storage must grow alongside renewable energy plans.
Peter Edwards is Professor of Inorganic Chemistry at the University of Oxford, Peter Dobson is Professor of Engineering at the University of Oxford, and Gary Owen is a Defense, Security and Technology Adviser to Government and Industry, email peter.dobson@eng. ox.ac.uk Our aim this month is to add 5,000 new people to our community of readers who support us with a financial gift by the end of the month to support our commitment to keep it free. Will you help us reach our goal by donating today? x
, a global partnership of more than 250 media outlets to strengthen coverage of the climate story. This article was published in August and has been slightly updated.
Battery Storage Systems
One of the most heated and interesting debates in the energy world concerns how far the United States can go with only carbon-free renewable energy.
One group believes that renewable energy can provide 100 percent of the U.S.’s energy needs through affordable energy storage and smart demand management.
Another group believes that renewable resources are dwindling and need help from nuclear power, natural gas or biomass through carbon capture and storage.
This battle is mostly being waged behind the scenes in competing academic papers, but it is very important to current events as many states and cities pass laws aimed at “100 percent clean energy.” Some, like Hawaii, are aiming for 100 percent renewable energy. Some, like Washington state, aim for 100 percent “cleanliness,” allowing for non-renewable resources.
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At the heart of the controversy is the simple fact that the two largest sources of renewable energy, wind and solar, are “changing.” They come with the weather and the time of day. They are “non-deployable”, meaning they cannot be opened and closed or scaled up and down over the network as needed. They are not grid-friendly; The cell adapts to them.
This means that a grid with more renewable energy requires more flexibility to adjust and balance fluctuations in wind and solar power. When people assume that renewable resources will not reach 100 percent, we are not flexible enough to accommodate them (at least not fast enough). A “fix” is required for resources that are sent and cannot be updated.
There are many sources of grid flexibility, but it is energy conservation that holds the most potential and seems to hold the greatest promise. According to early estimates, the question of whether 100 percent renewable energy is achievable depends on whether storage will be cheap enough. With enough cheap storage, we can add a ton to the grid and absorb almost any change.
This is the subject of the question
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