Storing energy: efficiency, savings, and sustainability

Thanks to Battery Energy Storage Systems (BESS), consumers, industries and whole cities become the main players of the low carbon energy transition by enabling renewable sources, lowering energy consumption, and achieving cost savings.

Published on 15 November 2019

Battery Energy Storage Systems lead to energy efficiency and sustainability

If today we can enjoy such pleasures of life like watching a movie while commuting, driving with no emissions and even planning day trips into space, we basically owe it to them: Akira Yoshino, Stanley Whittingham, and John Goodenough.

They were awarded the 2019 Nobel prize in Chemistry “for the development of lithium-ion batteries”. Such an award was labeled by some commentators as “pop” since this trio of scientists basically heralded an ongoing revolution in our daily lives.

Let’s just collect our thoughts for a minute: how many of our daily chores could we perform without batteries?

Energy storage devices are now basic components of a growing number of modern-day contraptions and so much more.

That’s one small step, from smartphones to smart cities

The elements that rendered the smartphone such a fundamental device are the same that underpin smart cities and industry 4.0, the paradigms of a new sustainable development program.

Thanks to technological advances, today’s smartphones are also TVs, books, organizers, heart rate monitors… and even phones. Electricity is what powers all of these exciting features, but without batteries, we’d be perpetually stuck next to a socket.

The same can be said for cities, businesses and factories. Scientists and engineers are already developing tools that improve industrial production, mobility, comfort levels in households, and even education and healthcare. Electricity is the lifeblood of each system. Without batteries, we couldn’t activate them in an effective and durable way, leading us to waste energy, at higher costs while damaging the environment.

The technology - electricity combination  has batteries as its link, being technological devices that store energy. By a casual look, these appear marginal, like the hyphen between two terms, although they serve an essential role in establishing a new model of sustainable development.

Storage systems: batteries powering the future

How can a battery - a device based on chemistry and electronics - offset climate change, foster the development of renewable sources, work to decarbonize the economy and even deliver lower costs for businesses and households?

The answer comes from the so-called Battery Energy Storage System (BESS), platforms that couple the energy storage capacity of batteries - with Li-ion being today’s premium tech - with software power to deliver advanced management of energy consumption by harnessing AI, Machine Learning and data-driven solutions.

The operating principle is quite simple: batteries receive electricity from the power grid or straight from the power station and subsequently store it to then release it when it is more convenient, while the software manages the charge and discharge cycles based on real-time needs and availability.

For a long time, the idea of stockpiling energy as a way to carefully manage its use only when really needed was considered a far-fetched proposition. Constant innovation and the brainpower symbolized by the three Nobel winners set the stage for the emergence of cutting-edge systems like BESSs.

More renewables, less consumption, improved efficiency

BESSs unleash a wide range of solutions for efficient and sustainable energy use that deliver economic and environmental benefits.

Today, renewable energy production is no longer tied to the immediate availability of sunshine and wind, as it can be managed efficiently by using the electricity generated in low-consumption periods - nighttime comes to mind - and storing it when renewable sources are available but energy demand is lagging. Hence, this is a way to increase the penetration of renewable sources in the electricity grid by removing the obstacles related to intermittent generation.

Storage systems can also address the energy consumption management of households, whole neighborhoods, small businesses, and large factories. By stockpiling energy based on specific needs and releasing it only when truly needed, energy waste, dispersion, and costs are all on a downward trajectory.

Businesses may seize BESSs as the key to usher a real sustainable transformation: the storage and management of energy flows and consumption levels make sure their activities can effectively combine savings, efficiency, flexibility, and resilience.

Even power grids are set to become smart systems thanks to the onset of Storage technology: the capacity to store energy and its subsequent release - based on specific needs - is the way to balance supply and demand, onboard private small-scale producers in the grid while delivering overall efficiency in the way electricity is consumed.

It took only a few years for batteries to usher the smartphone revolution that transferred a wealth of high-tech solutions in our pockets. Today, they’re at the core of a system that’s delivering the same groundbreaking revolution, only on a much larger, global scale, as it benefits our homes, cities, and businesses.

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