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Energy Storage Systems for Renewable Energy

What is energy storage?

In recent years, energy storage has quickly emerged as one of the highest sought-after energy solutions. Its deployments are not only soaring, they’re breaking records, too.

In 2020, the U.S. had less than a gigawatt of large battery installations. But by the end of 2021, the U.S. was on pace to add roughly 5.3 gigawatts of large battery energy storage installations in addition to an estimated 9 gigawatts in 2022, according to S&P Global Market Intelligence.

So, whether your organization needs more reliable backup power, wants to lower costs or is interested in reducing emissions, now is the time to take a closer look at the benefits of investing in an energy storage system. And we have just the guide to get you started.

Keep reading to have your top energy storage system questions answered. We’re breaking down what it is and how it works – and what this investment can mean for your organization today and in the future.

 

How does energy storage work?

battery storage

There are different types of energy storage systems that can usually be broken down into five broad categories: batteries, thermal, mechanical, pumped hydro and hydrogen.

Battery energy storage is by far the most common and widely accessible form of storage. Lithium-ion batteries make up 90% of the global grid battery storage market and are often deployed in conjunction with investments in solar panels. But they can also be standalone, charging from the grid when rates are affordable.

They use advanced algorithms to coordinate energy production and meet demand whenever it’s needed. When used with solar panels, it’s a complex process that can be most easily understood by breaking it down into three simple steps:

    • Step 1: Sunlight captured by your company’s solar panels charge your battery energy storage system during daylight hours.
    • Step 2: Algorithms analyze data that includes weather patterns, utility rate structures, usage history and more to coordinate energy production, making the best decision on when to store energy and when to use it.
    • Step 3: Energy is then discharged from the battery energy storage system during times of high usage or when you need it most.

This allows you to continue to power your business when the sun isn’t shining or during peak energy demands during the day, helping to keep your energy flowing as seamlessly as possible.

Connect with one of our energy advisors for a free energy storage consultation.

 

Why do I need energy storage?

notrees battery storage facility

There’s a reason why battery energy storage systems are a favorite among organizations: They’re energy efficient, largely low-maintenance and don’t require much effort or expertise from your organization.

And when combined with solar panels or other resiliency equipment, battery energy storage systems can check the boxes your organization cares most about:

    • Flexibility: Analytics and advanced monitoring can be customized to meet your organization’s unique needs. If you’re in an environment that experiences all four seasons, battery energy storage has multiple dispatch modes that can easily meet your cooling and heating needs throughout the day. And they take up a relatively small footprint, allowing them to fit in urban environments as well as in large, sprawling spaces.
    • Price Predictability: By storing low-cost energy and delivering it during peak periods of higher electricity rates, you have more control over your energy output, are better positioned to save on your overall energy costs and may be able to avoid peak usage penalties in certain electricity markets. And when financed as a power purchase agreement, you can get the budget certainty your finance department needs, helping you to better predict the cost of energy for years to come.
    • Reliability: When you lose power, your solar generation and battery energy storage systems can become your primary source of power. By releasing energy when you need it, you’re better protected against unplanned power outages and grid fluctuations that may impact sensitive equipment. And when used as part of a microgrid, your battery storage energy system can help dispatch energy almost instantaneously.
    • Sustainability: When it comes to sustainability, battery energy storage is a win-win. It has no direct emissions. It’s energy efficient. It recycles electricity. That means it will not only help your organization advance its sustainability goals but will also provide environmental, social and governance (ESG) investment value.

 

Where is battery energy storage being used today?

notrees wind battery storage

From wind to solar, large, utility-scale projects to mid-size solar projects, energy storage projects can fit the needs of businesses and campuses across a number of industries.

Here are some examples of how energy storage is being used today:

    • Notrees Windpower, a 36-MW utility-scale battery, is storing electricity produced by a 153-MW wind farm in Texas. Thanks to these batteries, the wind-generated energy can be used when it’s needed most, not just when the wind is blowing.
    • Blue Lake Rancheria’s solar plus energy storage system helps to cut energy costs when the grid is up and powers up to 50% of operations when the grid is unavailable. Not only that, but during outages such as public safety power shutoffs, the Blue Lake tribe also uses its microgrid to power its Red Cross Emergency Center operations and provide critical power to its broader Northern California community.
    • When outages occur at DHX-Dependable Hawaiian Express, the ocean/air freight forwarder is able to island from the grid, using solar generation to power operations during the day and stored energy in the batteries to continue into night. This allows time for “graceful shutdown” of high-value, climate-controlled operations, computing servers and other equipment for longer outages.

 

What is the future of energy storage?

Technology and innovation slow for no one – and that’s true as it relates to the future of energy storage.

Demand for energy storage is only expected to grow, largely driven by rapid growth in the U.S., falling battery energy storage costs and more clean energy government mandates and/or incentives. And this trend is certainly one that Duke Energy Sustainable Solutions key segment managers Michael Kilpatrick and Wayne Johnson say is worth paying close attention to in the future.

In their 2021 IDEA webinar Battery Storage: Where Is the Technology Going and What Are the Practical Applications, Johnson and Kilpatrick take a close look at what the future holds for energy storage as well as the tipping point for deployment. (Watch the webinar here.)

Right now, Johnson said, there are dozens of advancements and grid technology trends that are being tested, but some of them may be 10 or 15 years out from deployment.

“As things are coming down, think about which solutions are going to survive the trends,” Johnson said. “But the ones that have come to the top and are ready to be delivered today are microgrids, electric vehicles and energy storage.”

 

Get started

We know investing in energy storage is an important financial decision for your business, and our team is here to help guide you through the process.

Fill out the contact form below to learn more about how an energy storage system can best help your business achieve its unique goals.

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Existing Duke Energy Sustainable Solutions customers with questions should call 844.732.7652 or email sustainablesolutions@duke-energy.com.

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