The future of electricity storage
Societal, economic, and environmentally questions of energy storage solutions
Energy storage to supply on-demand is becoming more important with regard to the trend towards photovoltaic and wind power. Which providers of storage solutions will establish themselves, and will there be a so called storage market in the future? Possible economic effects, effects on society in general, as well as environmental issues are the focus of this study commissioned by the Austrian Parliament.
Renewable electricity generation, such as wind power or photovoltaics, depends on the time of day or year. To complicate things, use profiles – i.e. the need for energy over a day or a season – often do not correspond to production profiles. The spatial distance between generation and consumption of electrical energy, due to the further expansion of renewable generation capacity, is also an infrastructural challenge for decarbonisation. An important element in solving this challenge are storage technologies that store temporary or regional energy surpluses and provide them when needed. Therefore, there are several methods for storing electrical energy: they range from hydraulic pumped storage units to flywheels and electrochemical storage systems (batteries).
The introduction of the European Energy Union and the liberalization of energy and electricity markets raises the question of which actors will be able to provide storage capacity for markets in the future. Should storage be relevant only to the various grid operators and energy utilities or will some type of storage market emerge where various third-party actors provide storage services?
This study for the Austrian Parliament will focus primarily on environmental issues, economic and social aspects and less on technical and business perspectives. Not only do the various electricity storage technologies provide multiple opportunities for a decentralized, decarbonized electricity infrastructure, they may also pose challenges in terms of resource use in production or disposal and/or reuse of electrochemical storage systems. Thus, their promotion, use, and regulation harbours political trade-offs. Also, questions about the safety of handling stationary battery systems in private households must be raised. In the case of new or expanded pumped hydro storage power plants, there may be conflicts with regard to landscape use, nature conservation, and energy security.
The project is carried out by the 'ARGE ITA-AIT Parlament' under the framework agreement with the Austrian Parliament.
- (2019). Zwischenspeicher der Zukunft für elektrische Energie Endbericht (p. 102). Wien. doi:/10.1553/ITA-pb-AIT-9.
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