Battery storage: Enabler of clean energy and transportation
It is now being realized with almost finality that e-mobility along with RE can help the world reach the target of global temperature reduction by the turn of this century. With this backdrop, it is prudent to take a pause and reflect on how we, as a nation, have fared in adoption of e-mobility during the year 2020.
The race to reduce our environmental footprint is now firmly on, across the world. The warnings from the 'hippies' in the 1960s to look after the planet are now finally being actioned on. The Paris Agreement will help drive some improvement and the USA coming back in, will prove to be a good step. Many webinars this year have all shown graphs of how much investment will be needed to deliver the amount of renewables needed to achieve country targets. There has also been a huge growth in different renewable technologies being combined to deliver greater benefits.
We believe that battery storage will be at the heart of many schemes and will help deliver energy which is greener, more reliable, and able to bring wider benefits to people who are currently not able to access mains energy.
Global market for battery storage
The graphs in Figure 1 and Figure 2 show the growth in battery storage around the world, including India.
This year has witnessed global growth in battery storage and this will continue for years to come as battery storage will be used in many areas – micro/smart grids, EV charging and alongside, a PV array. The investment in batteries will be substantial, so investors/operators and suppliers will want to ensure that returns and performance are optimized. We would like to explore what is behind this huge growth, what will be the opportunities and what ideas need to be done to maximize this opportunity.
As the growth of renewables continue so does the need to manage all the data being produced. All players in the energy chain will want to see the optimal output. This goes from the investors in the technology to the end users who will gain a source of greener energy.
The data will come from many sources – satellites, drones, meters, technical specifications, and so new levels of artificial intelligence (AI) and machine models will develop to help provide high quality data for all users.
Here we discuss some areas where batteries can help us achieve the key objectives.
Most of us are fortunate to have electricity in our homes to help power our lives. Many people around the world unfortunately do not have access to energy. There are several companies like i-EM that are playing their part in delivering this basic need. By linking battery storage, with PV installations and a software platform to optimize this investment, we can help bring energy to rural areas. This reduced reliance on fuels such as diesel, will help deliver the objectives of more reliable greener energy. Once the platform is set up, it should be possible to add on services such as tele-medicine, tele-education, smart pay-as-you-go and other data driven solutions.
Figure 3 illustrates the work (project MOWGLI) i-EM is doing in partnership with the European Space Agency. The program is expected to start next year.
Along with battery storage, the growth of e-mobility products and services has been striking this year. In the UK, the government has announced that no new diesel or petrol cars will be allowed to be sold after 2030. More cars are being introduced, benefiting from improved technology and reduced costs. This will present a huge opportunity to help reduce CO2 emissions and make driving more environment-friendly, but it also gives a challenge with an infrastructure of charging points and e-mobility services needed to ensure that this growth can be supported.
Firms are looking at installing large scale battery storage plants to allow multiple, high-speed charging to take place simultaneously. This will mean that DSO's, TSO's and other parties will need to be able to manage and balance their networks more dynamically and in real-time.
Other forecast is the concept of vehicle-to-grid (V2G) solutions. As more cars have battery storage capacity, these batteries have the capability to be used as a way to power other assets, and could potentially be combined to provide a larger source of energy. Again, critical here will be companies providing services and solutions to be able to use this energy source and as ever, data will be key.
PV/battery storage combinations
Both e-mobility and microgrids will have a combination of PV and battery storage to help deliver the benefits. The ability to generate and store energy will give interested parties the ability to take greater control of their energy environment. Key aspect would be the ability to gather and use the data to the benefit of all.
Ultimately what will be needed is the ability to link this storage capability to a real-time trading platform to allow extra revenue generating opportunities.
New services for battery storage
As batteries grow in use, there will be a greater reliance on them to help provide a reliable source of energy. This will be for large-scale batteries or in cars.
Maintenance will, therefore, be important. Poor maintenance strategies can substantially reduce productive capacity. As machine parts are taken offline for servicing, many organizations face the challenge of weighing lost production time against the risks of breakdowns. Predictive maintenance could be a solution.
Predictive maintenance analyses data to predict failures in advance, allowing changes to be made to production, schedules, and maintenance activities. This helps prevent failures and avoid machine shutdowns.
(The views expressed in this article are the author's own.)