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Why we need energy storage
Many countries of the world today have the target to move their energy systems towards more sustainability and focus on using more renewable energy. Among the various types of renewables, wind and solar power have the highest potential in most regions. Their main disadvantage is that they cannot be dispatched like thermal generation from gas or coal; thus generation will exceed the power demand at some times, while at other times there will be virtually no power from wind and solar, and all power required must come from “backup” power plants. Further issues in highly-renewable energy systems are steep ramp ups & ramp downs required in generation and the spatial distribution of the energy via the electric grid.
This is why we need smart grids, intelligent load management, grid extension and energy storage to balance demand and supply in electricity systems. While the former options can contribute to the solution, ultimately a renewables-based energy system will only be feasible with a certain amount of energy storage capacity.
Types of storage
A huge variety of energy storage technologies exists, from flywheels to hydropower plants, from Watt scale to GW scale, from seconds to months of duration. There is no "one-fits-all" solution: Batteries might be a viable solution for complementing a home photovoltaic system, but are not economic for long-term storage. Likewise, pumped hydro plants can be used for daily or even weekly storage, but can only be built in specific locations. Also, energy storage does not necessarily have to be "power-to-power"; other types such as "power-to-gas", "power-to-chemicals" and "power-to-heat" can also provide valid contributions and open up new opportunities in the energy system: for example, building new power transmission lines could be diminished by using the transport capacity of natural gas pipelines to transport renewable energy.
Therefore, a combination of different technologies will be the best match to fulfill the various grid balancing needs.
As an innovative and experienced technology company, Linde has a wide technology portfolio that can be utilized for energy storage. Our main focus areas are
Under current regulations, energy storage is only economically viable in few applications and geographies. However, thinking long term, it is a necessary building block for realizing and operating energy systems with high penetration of renewables. Politicians, researchers and industry have understood that and are working together to develop the framework for the deployment of energy storage and advancing technology development and demonstration, in order to make energy storage economically viable by the end of the decade.