Battery storage devices will become increasingly critical in balancing renewable energy supplies and meeting electricity demand.

FREMONT, CA: Battery storage, or battery energy storage systems (BESS), are technologies that allow renewable energy sources such as solar and wind to be stored and then released when customers are most in need of power.

Lithium-ion batteries, which are found in smartphones and electric cars, are currently the most widely employed storage technology for large-scale plants that assist electrical grids in ensuring a reliable supply of renewable energy.

Battery storage technology is critical in guaranteeing that green energy can power homes and businesses even when the sun isn't shining or the wind isn't blowing.

For example, while the United Kingdom has the world's most excellent installed capacity of offshore wind, the ability to capture and strategically deploy this energy can boost the value of this clean energy by increasing production and potentially lowering costs.

Every day, engineers at National Grid and worldwide's power grids must balance supply and demand. Managing these peaks and troughs becomes more complicated when the goal is to achieve net-zero carbon production by phasing out fossil fuel plants that have historically been utilized as a backup source of electricity to ensure a consistent, steady supply.

How does a battery storage system work?

Batteries are far more advanced than the batteries people store in their kitchen drawers or insert into their children's toys. A battery storage system can be charged using renewable energy sources such as wind and sun.

Intelligent battery software utilizes algorithms to coordinate energy production, while computerized control systems choose when to retain energy for reserve purposes or release it to the grid. During peak demand, energy is released from the battery storage system, which helps keep costs down and electricity flowing.

Which sustainable energy storage technologies are currently being developed?

Renewable energy storage requires low-cost technologies that are durable—capable of charging and discharging thousands of times—safe and capable of cost-effectively storing enough energy to meet demand.

Lithium-ion batteries were invented in the 1970s by a British scientist and made their commercial debut in 1991 with Sony's handheld video recorder. While batteries are now the most economically effective energy storage solution, various additional battery storage technologies are being explored. These include the following:

Compressed air energy storage: These systems, often housed in enormous chambers, employ surplus energy to compress and then store air. When energy is required, compressed air is released and directed through an air turbine, generating electricity.

Mechanical gravity energy storage: A mechanical gravity energy storage device moves concrete blocks up a tower. When energy is required, the concrete blocks are lowered to generate power by gravity's pull.

Flow batteries: Chemical energy is provided by two chemical components dissolved in liquids within the system and separated by a membrane in flow batteries, which effectively rechargeable fuel cells.