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Aleksander
Jess
Energy
21.03.2024 | 6 min

Managing Surplus Renewable Energy with Energy Storage Systems

Renewable energy has finally hit the mark of being competitive with “traditional” energy sources. Energy production from green sources is getting more and more popular among enterprises. The missing piece is efficient energy storage. The sun will shine the brightest at noon but won’t be there at midnight (unless you live very far up north in Sweden or Norway in the summer). We can’t forcibly make the sun shine for longer or make the win blow all the time, so what do you do?

Managing Surplus Renewable Energy with Energy Storage Systems - 2024 34
Table of Contents
  • Renewable Energy Management with the Help of Energy Storage Systems
  • Real-World Examples of Efficient Energy Storage in Renewable Energy
  • The Future of Renewable Energy Storage: Solid State Batteries
  • The Role of Government Support
  • Summary

Renewable Energy Management with the Help of Energy Storage Systems

As we already mentioned, one of the main disadvantages of green energy is that the energy generation isn’t consistent in the case of solar energy or wind energy, two of the most rapidly growing green energy sources in the Nordic countries, and around the world.

So since we can’t use the surplus energy during the day, what can we do with it? That’s where batteries come in, and we don’t mean AA or AAA ones. That’s a job for more heavy duty ones. Currently, we are looking at a few main approaches:

  1. Pumped Hydro Storage. It uses excess electricity to pump water uphill to a reservoir. When electricity demand is high, the water is released back down through turbines to generate power.
  2. Hydrogen Storage. This method uses surplus electricity to create hydrogen through electrolysis, which splits water molecules. The hydrogen can then be stored and later used in fuel cells to generate electricity, or even blended into natural gas supplies.
  3. Battery Storage. Battery technology is constantly improving, and large-scale battery storage facilities are becoming more common. The new approach is to recycle old car batteries.
  4. Compressed Air Storage. This method uses excess electricity to compress air into underground caverns. When needed, the compressed air is released to drive turbines and generate electricity. The issue is to find appropriate geological formations for storage.
  5. Hot Rock Storage. In short, you heat up bricks and such using the cheapest six hours of electricity in any given day, and then the battery discharges over 18 hours.

We know a thing or two about creating systems for batteries. We created such a system for KYOTO, one of our clients.

Virtual Battery (VB)

“Traditional” battery storage solutions have limitations, like finding space for large-scale facilities and the environmental impact of new battery production. Here's where Virtual Battery (VB) steps in as a game-changer.

VB is an innovative software-based energy storage solution that acts like a maestro, orchestrating and optimizing existing battery systems with unmatched finesse. Imagine a network where solar panels, wind turbines, and even recycled electric car batteries from various locations are united under the VB umbrella. This software masterfully designs and manages these decentralized energy resources remotely, transforming them into a powerful, harmonized virtual power plant (VPP).

VB goes beyond simple storage, functioning as a conductor of sorts, brilliantly balancing energy supply and demand across the grid. This improves energy production and use, making the power grid more stable for a sustainable energy future. Just like we created a customized VB system for our client KYOTO, VB can revolutionize energy management for any business or region.

Real-World Examples of Efficient Energy Storage in Renewable Energy

Tesla's Hornsdale Power Reserve

One of the most notable examples of efficient energy storage in renewable energy is Tesla's Hornsdale Power Reserve in South Australia. This project, which was completed in 2017, is the world's largest lithium-ion battery storage system.

The Hornsdale Power Reserve has a capacity of 129 MWh and can provide backup power to over 30,000 homes for up to an hour. It has been instrumental in stabilizing the South Australian energy grid, which has a high reliance on wind energy.

The UK's Largest Battery Storage Project

Leighton Buzzard, Bedfordshire, saw the completion of the UK's biggest battery storage initiative in 2018. The UK Power Reserve developed this project, which has a 60 MWh capacity and the ability to provide backup power to more than 10,000 households for up to 60 minutes.

Using lithium-ion batteries, the project is linked to the National Grid, ensuring stability for the UK's energy grid and facilitating the expansion of renewable energy resources.

Kyoto

Kyotopia, a project we developed for Kyoto, showcases the power of digital twins in optimizing renewable energy storage. KYOTO is a Norwegian startup passionate about developing Concentrated Solar Power (CSP) plants.

The initial concept involved a user-friendly interface to assess global renewable energy potential and facilitate CSP plant construction. However, the project pivoted towards a more scalable solution: thermal energy storage using molten salt batteries.

Our role involved creating a comprehensive Battery Management System (BMS) leveraging SCADA technology. This industrial IoT solution included functionalities like a secure AWS cloud infrastructure, a real-time flow monitoring dashboard, and a platform to simulate plant performance.

The project presented exciting challenges due to its large scale, international collaboration, and evolving concept. Agile methodologies proved crucial for managing this complex undertaking.

Ultimately, the Kyotopia project's success hinged on the creation of a functional MVP and efficient digital twin implementation. This achievement attracted investors and propelled KYOTO's public listing on the EURONEXT market.

The Future of Renewable Energy Storage: Solid State Batteries

Regular lithium-ion batteries, the ones in your phone or laptop, rely on a liquid electrolyte to shuttle lithium ions between the anode and cathode. This liquid, while effective, has limitations. Solid-state batteries take a different approach, offering several potential advantages.

How Are They Different?

Solid Electrolyte: This is the key difference. Instead of a liquid, a solid material separates the anode and cathode. This solid electrolyte allows only lithium ions to pass through, preventing unwanted reactions and improving safety.

Electrodes: Similar to lithium-ion batteries, solid-state batteries use an anode and cathode for storing and releasing energy. However, solid-state designs can potentially use different materials, like metallic lithium for the anode, which can hold more energy.

Solid vs. Lithium-Ion Batteries: Key Differences

Safety: Solid electrolytes are generally less flammable than liquid electrolytes, potentially reducing the risk of fires.

Energy Density: Solid-state batteries have the potential to store more energy per unit weight or volume compared to lithium-ion batteries. This could translate to longer range for electric vehicles or smaller and lighter electronics.

Faster Charging: Some solid-state battery designs may allow for faster charging times due to the properties of the solid electrolyte.

Durability: Solid-state batteries might offer a longer lifespan and better tolerance for extreme temperatures compared to lithium-ion batteries.

The Role of Government Support

To continue the development and implementation of efficient energy storage in renewable energy, government support is crucial. Incentives and subsidies can help drive investment in renewable energy and energy storage projects, making them more financially viable for companies and individuals.

Nordic countries are already a prime region for investment in renewable energy storage. Projects in Sweden and Finland are already underway, with an impressive 70 MW projects in plans in Sweden.

Summary

To accelerate the green transition, we need efficient energy storage systems. Curiously, getting rid of fossil fuels will advance us to level 1 on Kardashev’s scale.

No matter how advanced or simple these energy storage systems are, they need proper software. You need to orchestrate multiple systems together, such as the generators themselves (wind turbines, solar farms), batteries, and even electric vehicles themselves. It’s all an intertwined web of interdependent subsystems, and you need an experienced team to put it all together. That’s where we come in.

Order Group has experience with developing such systems; just look at our case study. Do not hesitate to contact us today, and let’s talk about your project. We are excited to be shaping the future of the energy industry and contributing to the decarbonization of energy production.

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