Energy Storage-Benefits for the Entire Electricity Supply Chain

A decentralized energy system with storage will redefine what it means to have a robust and resilient power grid.
Published: Thu 10 Apr 2014

Energy storage is the missing link to a clean, reliable, affordable, and decentralized energy future.

This is according to Steve Hellman, President of Eos Energy Storage who explains that inexpensive, inherently safe, energy dense batteries will naturally pair with distributed solar photovoltaics so that electricity can be produced where and when it is needed by consumers.

Distributed generation and energy storage-the way forward

Energy storage will help consumers to become less reliant on the grid-a positive for consumers as their electricity will be cheaper and they will enjoy a more reliable power supply.

In addition to this, energy storage will assist with the inherent variability of wind and solar.

In the near future, energy storage, combined with distributed generation, will enable microgrids that can autonomously power entire communities without relying on the power grid-most of which are ageing and have become fragile and vulnerable as a result.

This decentralized architecture will redefine what it means to have robust and resilient electricity grid, explains Mr Hellman. For instance, when superstorm Sandy hit, 20,000 trees fell on houses, roads and power lines, leaving 8.1 million homes without power for many days or weeks and, in some parts of New Jersey, even months. The outage which left the lower half of Manhattan in darkness for almost a full week can be traced to a single transformer that exploded after salt water flooded and submerged a Con Edison substation.

Transforming the power industry and peoples’ lives

This high level of power disruption can be reduced or avoided by implementing a robust energy storage solution. Distributed energy such as solar photovoltaics and battery storage technologies will no doubt transform the electricity industry and the way in which we respond to extreme weather events.

Furthermore, these technological innovations will provide easy access to electricity, especially to those who have never been connected to the grid as they live in isolated areas. This is where trillions of dollars, to build out a hard-wired grid system, can be saved since low-cost energy storage and solar photovoltaics can be deployed in community-scale microgrids.

“Just as cell phones enabled access to information that was just years ago thought impossible, these technologies will provide power to communities that have never before had access to electricity—ultimately enabling new entrepreneurialism, economic growth, and a higher standard of living for billions of people all over the world,” explains Mr Hellman.

Energy storage is beneficial (for the utility too)

Philippe Bouchard, Vice President, Business Development for Eos Energy Storage, says that although the company is currently focused on scaling up manufacturing and delivering its ZnythTM battery technology to their utility Genesis partners for testing in the field, they intend to make this technology available to consumers that are aiming to go ‘off-grid.’

We asked Mr Bouchard what would drive customers to go off-grid and he explained that it will be driven by economics and, more specifically, whether distributed generation and storage can serve their power requirements at lower cost and higher reliability than the centralized grid. He goes on to explains that with the cost of distributed energy resources decreasing at a rapid pace and the cost of centralized generation and distribution infrastructure increasing, Eos believes that there will be early adopters of this technological solution in markets where electricity prices are particularly high (e.g., islands where liquid fuel powered generation results in prices upwards of $0.50/kWh), with widespread adoption occurring thereafter.

He adds that another driver is the need for improved power reliability where the ability to ‘island’ electrical loads using distributed generation and storage enabled microgrids can actually complement the capabilities of the existing grid infrastructure.

Says Mr Bouchard, “Overall, we believe that energy storage has a role to play and value to add at almost every point in the electricity supply chain. Our technology will be used by end-use customers and utilities alike to provide clean and reliable electricity at the lowest possible cost.”