Last week, we discussed how a smart grid relies on better coordinating electricity supply and demand to create a system that is efficient, inexpensive, and based on renewable energy sources. We also talked about several components of the smart grid, including self-healing, flexible distribution, load adjustment, load shifting, and how energy storage plays a role in each.
For the past hundred years, electricity has been consumed the moment it is created. Storage can change this and allow for better coordination between energy supply and demand.
Let’s look at each of the four elements of the smart grid, and analyze how energy storage is a necessary component of each:
- Self-healing: When a transmission line fails, or a power plant goes down unexpectedly, energy storage can avert catastrophe. It can be called upon at a moment’s notice to provide power until generators can be brought online.
- Flexible Distribution: The proliferation of residential solar on the grid comes with unexpected consequences, including local voltage shifts and problems with power quality. Distributed energy storage can control how renewable power ties to the grid.
- Load Adjustment: If energy demand increases rapidly, grid operators will ask power producers to bring online standby power and other generator sources. This takes time and money. Energy storage reacts instantly and can mitigate these short-term energy spikes.
- Load shifting: Energy storage allows for the shifting of production and consumption. With storage, energy can be produced at night, when power is cheap and efficient, and stored in batteries for use during peak times when power becomes expensive and inefficient to generate.
By supporting these elements, energy storage will help achieve the ultimate benefits of the smart grid:
- Increased efficiency: By shifting reducing reducing peak generation demand and handling rapid changes in consumption, energy storage increases the efficiency of the grid.
- Decreased capital investment: Energy storage can handle rapid, unexpected changes as well as regular, predictable shifts in demand. This reduces or prevents the need to install additional generator or transmission assets.
- Greater renewable penetration: Unpredictable renewable energy production is smoothed by energy storage, creating a grid that is both green and practical.
- Increased reliability: Energy storage will increase the reliability of the grid by handling rapid changes in demand and acting quickly in times of trouble.
Energy storage is a crucial component of the smart grid. It allows for the decoupling of supply and demand, which will lead to a more reliable, efficient, and flexible grid while reducing infrastructure and operating costs.
For more information one the benefits that storage brings to the smart grid, check out our applications page.