Buffer storage – key technology of energy system transformation

On behalf of the Austrian Parliament, the ITA together with the AIT investigated the advantages and disadvantages of various energy buffer storage technologies.

Austria has set itself the goal of converting its energy system to renewable energies. This requires not only the construction of new power plants but also new technologies. Intermediate storage facilities for electrical energy are regarded as one of the key technologies of the energy turnaround. They enable a temporal decoupling of supply and demand and thus contribute to the further integration of wind and solar power.

The authors of the study, Michael Ornetzeder and Steffen Bettin, point out that storage facilities alone could not achieve the energy revolution. From the point of view of security of supply, storage facilities are only one option among many others. Economical operation of new storage facilities is currently only possible to a limited extent, and the need for additional storage facilities is difficult to determine. Michael Nentwich, co-project manager, emphasizes: "The use of new technologies not only opens up new technical and social opportunities, but is also always associated with uncertainties and undesirable consequences and risks. This is also the case with intermediate storage facilities for electrical energy".

Consequences, risks and conflict potentials of electrical storage systems depend on the respective technology or application. For this reason, the study examined these separately: pumped storage power plants, battery storage systems and chemical storage facilities (hydrogen and synthetic methane). The study concludes that, in the long run, all options - albeit to varying degrees - must be exploited if the goal of almost complete decarbonisation of the entire electricity sector is to be achieved. The greatest demand in the future will certainly lie in the area of long-term storage.


ITA-AIT study in full text (German only)
Project webpage
Parliament press releas (German only)

By: dr

Buffer storage for sustainable energy (Image: shutterstock.com, petrmalinak)