Tuesday 14th July 2020

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Keeping the lights on

A look at energy storage during and beyond COVID-19

by Ron MacDonald | May 4, 2020

A look at energy storage during and beyond COVID-19

Environmental sustainability places increasing emphasis
on energy storage for residential, commercial and industrial uses.

 

Despite the wrecking ball that the pandemic has imposed on the global economy, businesses and residences continue to need reliable power. Since the discovery of electricity, we have sought effective methods to store that energy for use on demand. Over the last century, the energy storage industry has advanced, adapted and transformed in response to shifting energy requirements and advances in technology.

A look at energy storage during and beyond COVID-19

Intermittent generation and off-grid
consumption both call for energy storage.

Our global initiative to control the coronavirus has meant many residents stayed at home and factories shut down. That had an unintended effect—less air pollution. Cleaner air can improve public health, maybe even save lives.

Energy storage can help us maintain a cleaner world by creating the economics needed to support more investment into clean, green renewable energy. Due to concerns about the environmental impacts of fossil fuels and the capacity and resilience of energy grids around the world, engineers and policymakers are increasingly turning their attention to energy storage solutions.

The global rise in electricity generation from renewable sources has led to increased demand for advanced batteries that can be used to firm this intermittent supply. This requirement is particularly important in areas where grid connections may be tenuous, unreliable or even non-existent. Additional demand for advanced batteries is presented by grid applications such as peak-shifting and T&D (Transmission and Distribution) deferral.

Energy storage systems provide a wide array of technological approaches to managing our power supply in order to create a more resilient energy infrastructure and bring cost savings to utilities and consumers.

Demand for the more traditional battery backup application is also increasing for reasons such as the desire to replace diesel generators and the increasing reliance of business on a dependable energy source. Without batteries, solar panels and wind turbines become useless when the sun doesn’t shine and the wind doesn’t blow. Batteries allow the use of electricity whenever it’s needed, not only when it’s generated.

A look at energy storage during and beyond COVID-19

Ron MacDonald: “One of the challenges to
growing a North American energy storage
industry has been a dependency on a
supply chain of hardware components,
metals and chemicals, many of which
come from outside North America.”

MarketsandMarkets’ study COVID-19 Impact on Battery Energy Storage Market states the market is projected to grow from US$5.7 billion in 2020 to US$7.3 billion by 2021. The study adds that the “major factors driving the battery energy storage industry include the growing need for continuous power for critical infrastructure sectors and the rising need to integrate renewable energy sources and rural electrification.”

One of the challenges to growing a North American energy storage industry has been a dependency on a supply chain of hardware components, metals and chemicals, many of which come from outside North America. As well, metals such as lithium and vanadium used in some batteries are impacted by price volatility and security of supply.

However, those same risks do not apply to zinc-air batteries. Zinc is abundant and inexpensive, with a significant North American supply. Its chemistry is robust and safe. Our zinc-air battery has decoupled energy and power, making it one of the lowest-cost long-duration battery storage solutions available.

Post-pandemic, there is no doubt that our collective future requires clean air and our pathway to that environmentally sound planet demands energy storage systems. A “bet” on energy storage is a wager that will deliver a cleaner planet that will thrive for current and future generations.

Ron MacDonald is president/CEO of Zinc8 Energy Solutions CSE:ZAIR, the leader in zinc-air battery technology. The Zinc-Air Flow Battery from Zinc8 is an energy storage unit designed to serve a wide range of long-duration applications for microgrids and utilities. He can be reached at ron@zinc8energy.com and on LinkedIn.


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