electricity storage

Energy storage will play a crucial role in enabling the next phase of the energy transition.This is according to the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) in its Electricity Storage and Renewables: Costs and Markets to 2030, a study discussing trends within the global energy storage and renewable energy markets through to 2030.

The report highlights that the energy storage market will boost both solar and wind energy generation in addition to reducing the energy sector’s carbon footprint.

Efforts by governments to collectively achieve carbon emission reduction targets set under the 2015 UN Climate Change Conference held in Paris is positively impacting on the energy storage market.

Due to decreases in the total costs of renewable energy generation technologies, the energy sector has witnessed a significant growth of clean energy portfolio and reduction in carbon emissions.

Despite an increase in decarbonisation of the energy sector as a whole, IRENA says there is a need to accelerate deployment of carbon emission reduction measures and renewable energy resources amongst residential end-users, the transport sector and within commercial buildings.

The emergence of innovative technologies in the energy storage segment is expected to allow an increase in the adoption of electric vehicles, enable 24-hour off-grid solar home systems and support 100% renewable mini-grids.

Electricity storage technologies

“As variable renewables grow to substantial levels, electricity systems will require greater flexibility. At very high shares of VRE [variable renewable energy], electricity will need to be stored over days, weeks or months. By providing these essential services, electricity storage can drive serious electricity decarbonisation and help transform the whole energy sector,” states the report.

And as such, IRENA says there is need for an increase in research and development of energy storage solutions through to 2030 to ensure utility firms will be able to store energy for weeks or months.

Despite increases, the solar and wind generation still has a limited impact on grid operation. To date, only a few cases have been successful in stabilising grid networks with energy generated from renewable energy resources, stored and provided to consumers.

IRENA forecasts that by 2050, 80% of the world’s total energy will be generated from renewable energy resources and as such energy storage will be the heart of utility operations.

Total electricity storage capacity might triple by 2030, if countries proceed to double the share of renewables in the world’s energy system. By the end of 2030, the total energy storage capacity is expected to reach between 11.89TWh and 15.72TWh from 4.67TWh in 2017.

IRENA says:

  • The cost reduction potential for new and emerging electricity storage technologies is significant.
  • The total installed cost of a Li-ion battery could fall by an additional 54-61% by 2030 in stationary applications. Other battery storage technologies also offer large cost reduction potential. The total installed cost of 'flow batteries' could drop two-thirds by 2030.
  • High temperature sodium sulphur (NaS) and sodium nickel chloride batteries will also become much more affordable. Their installed cost could fall 56-60% by 2030, at the same time that their performance improves.
  • Flywheels could see their installed cost fall by 35% by 2030. Compressed air energy storage (CAES), although based on a combination of mature technologies, could see a 17% cost decline by 2030.


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