The Great Energy Storage Debate: Power Vs Energy

September 20, 2016

One of the biggest debates around energy storage for the grid is whether its role should be to provide short injections of power to the grid or if it should time-shift energy that can last for multiple hours. Power grids are very large, complex, networks that cover large geographical areas, supplying towns, cities, villages, and metropolitan areas with this essential commodity. The grid is under stress from consumer demands, renewable integration, aging infrastructure, and new regulations. When energy storage is integrated throughout the supply chain from generation, transmission, distribution, and demand it can help relieve this stress and provide multiple cost savings, all while having a positive environmental impact.

It’s Not Just Renewables

A common misconception is that the application of energy storage is purely for the harvesting of renewables.  We are all familiar with the argument that wind and solar renewables are intermittent and not always in sync with the demands of the grid and so time-shifting that energy through the use of storage is seen as the nirvana for the technology. 

But as important as renewables are, the reality is that they accounted for about 10% of total U.S. energy consumption in 2015 and about 13% of electricity generation according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration.  What is often overlooked is the huge value of storage as it applies to the other 90% of energy consumption – and the demands that this makes on storage for both power and energy.

The Grid Needs More

Through advanced energy analytics it has been determined that the grid actually requires different levels of power and energy, and combinations of both.

Take for example frequency regulation. To combat the problems, generators have to manage frequencies in tight bands and this requires an energy service that delivers high power, rather than just the energy harvesting service that is required for renewables.  The Energy Storage Association has described frequency regulation as the grid service that has the “highest value” and goes on to point out that the difference between a slow to kick in additional generation source that takes minutes to get going is a lot less valuable than an electricity storage system that can activate in milliseconds.  

Similarly, spinning reserve is an application that is often hidden behind the scenes, but becomes critical when a generator failure strikes.  In the digital era, a power outage is not just inconvenient, but a disaster.  The current approach to the spinning reserve through over-generation is both wasteful and difficult to deliver when the generators are running near to their maximum capacity.  As an alternative, electricity storage is viewed as a very convincing technology and is already being implemented in cities across the U.S.  But this solution again requires a combination of both energy and power. 

The list goes on; energy storage is being presented as a solution for everything from how to defer costs in transmission and distribution, to the delivery of peak shaving, through to voltage support. Perhaps most important is not the diversity of services required but the ability through analytics for the system to know which service to deploy when.

Choosing Storage That Provides Both Power & Energy

A wide variety of technologies are available to deliver energy storage solutions including pumped hydro, but as advances in battery technologies emerge, the energy industry is now looking at electrical storage as a solution.  The selection of an energy storage solution is too often made with reference to just one application, and without understanding the full mix of services that could be required for a given deployment context. 

We are in the midst of a grand transformation of the world’s electric power grids. The transformation is dependent on the integration of new technologies and renewable resources. Energy storage solutions will play a big role in this transformation. The Alevo GridBank and Alevo Analytics provide a very versatile, customizable energy storage solution that can meet the high power and high energy demands of the electrical grid.

About Alevo GridBank

The Alevo GridBank™ is the most advanced lithium-ion storage enclosure on the market due to the attributes of Alevo’s patented battery technology, integrated hardware and software solutions, and its unique GridBank engineering. The GridBank is a vertically engineered 2 MW / 1 MWh storage system. At the heart of the GridBank is Alevo Battery Technology (ABT) that uses Alevolyte™, a breakthrough inorganic electrolyte that provides powerful attributes not found in any other battery on the market today.  Learn more about Alevo GridBank 

About Alevo Analytics

Alevo Analytics offers advanced analytics and simulation capabilities, business intelligence and advisory services with a primary focus on the power and energy sectors. We collaborate with customers to provide unique insights regarding where the deployment of distributed energy resources will yield the greatest benefits while demonstrating the efficiencies which can be realized across the electricity supply chain. Learn more about Alevo Analytics

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