COP25: It’s time for action and it’s time for energy storage

Battery energy storage is being one of the main topics in relation to energy transition addressed during the COP25 these days at IFEMA in Madrid. The world’s headquarter leaders have met to conclude the last issues of the Paris Agreement, and energy storage systems will be key to allow clean energy to grow. We are dealing with a technology that solves the intermittency of renewable energies and grid stability. Although solar and wind energy are the two most attractive and profitable forms of clean energy generation, both highlight a problem that fossil fuels do not have: uninterrupted production. When a switch or television is turned on, the reaction is immediate and we expect it never, or nearly ever, fails. However, if we only depended on solar or wind production, when a cloud covered the sun or the wind stopped blowing in an area of windmills, production valleys would occur. In the same way, when the cloud passes and the wind resumes, production peaks would come into the grid.

Renewable energies are the unique future and their introduction into social life is increasing day by day, as well as the dismantling of our current model of energy generation, which seemed to be the alternative to manage these peaks and valleys of production. Today, batteries are asserting themselves as the great allies against climate change for several reasons:

  •  They improve the performance of renewables and strengthen their penetration.
  •  Allow a smoother and safer transition from fossil fuels to renewable energies.
  •  Solve the production interruption problem.
  •  Turn increasingly cheaper to manufacture.
  •  New raw materials, in addition to lithium, increase their useful life.
  •  Installation costs are decreasing.

Lithium-ion batteries have changed our lives and could be the key to completely change the ecological landscape and take care of the planet in rlation to energy use. The 2019 Nobel Prize in Chemistry was awarded to the American John B. Goodenough, the British Stanley Whittingham and the Japanese Akira Yoshino for, according to the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences, “laying the foundations for a society without cables and free of fossil fuels”. Curiously, in the same month, the population of North Carolina increased investment in solar energy and storage systems after the blackout due to continuous fires in the area. Those who have experienced the consequences of a grid disruption can say that batteries are the quickest, easiest and thus best solution. According to information published by The Economist, the last budget approved by the U.S. Department of Energy amounted to 28 million dollars, compared to 150 million dollars of investment for carbon extraction.

The use of storage systems has a series of advantages that support the decarbonization of the current energy production model. In fact, the dependence that renewable energy projects have on them is growing at the same rate as the requests for grid connection of PV plants and wind farms. According to the latest report from The European Association for Storage of Energy (EASA), as part of the solution, “the energy storage deployment can facilitate the transition to a zero-emission net energy system by 2050 in many ways”. By enabling a greater share of variable renewable energy sources (vRES) in the energy mix, while reducing vRES curtailment in times of oversupply; by supporting electrification of the heating, cooling, and transport sectors as well as the connection of the electricity and gas sectors; by supporting secure, cost-effective, and efficient operation of the grid by providing key flexibility services at all levels of the energy system, including transmission and distribution; or by allowing active consumers to optimise self-consumption and/or provision of grid flexibility services, among others.

As a conclusion, we can say that battery storage technologies are constantly evolving, as scientists and engineers work to find cheaper, safer, lighter and more flexible and powerful energy storage solutions, their systems are becoming more widespread  and experts are predicting longer utility ranges and shorter charging times through innovations in batteries and inverters.