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Modern Energy Storage Solutions Leading Change in Power Sector

Power | May, 2023

The world is witnessing an energy crisis due to depleting fossil fuel resources, exacerbating demand for electricity, and global supply chain crunch. To keep up with the energy demands, shift from fossil-based energy economy towards renewable energy economy has become rampant. In the United States and other developed nations, wind and solar are now competing extremely successfully for capacity additions. Many utility companies are upping their targets for clean energy to reach the goal of net-zero emissions and reduce dependency on fossil fuel resources. However, the erratic and intermittent availability of natural resources to generate electricity present obstacles for making electricity grid run entirely on renewable sources.

As renewable energy takes a more significant position in the overall power mix, the demand for efficient and reliable energy storage solutions is growing for maintaining a balance between energy input and output at all times. With its grid balancing and renewable power optimizing services, energy storage offers businesses the ideal opportunity to realize the full potential of sustainable energy. Besides, the increasing penetration is changing the operational dynamics of the power system, and energy storage is going to be a quintessential part of the new architecture. This way, energy storage technologies can ensure the supply of clean and green energy even when energy production peaks are not in accordance with the energy demands. Moreover, increasing number of limitations for surplus renewable power on the grid for later use and withdrawal of net metering incentives by the regulatory authorities are fueling the growth of the energy storage technologies market.

The growing need for energy storage has led to a range of solutions available for use in the power sector.

Pumped Energy Transfer Stations (PETS)

Scientists have identified water as a promising alternative to boost the economics and potential of renewable energy. Pumped Energy Transfer Stations (PETS) harness the gravity of water to produce energy. Originally developed to optimize the operation of large thermal and nuclear power plants, now the PETS are rapidly gaining significance in intermittent renewable energies such as wind power and solar photovoltaic. The pumped hydroelectric installations consume excess energy during off-peak hours and produce it again during peak consumption periods, thus circumventing the intermittent nature of renewable energy sources. When the demand for electricity is low, the stations pump water from lower basin to the upper basin and when the demand increases, the system generates electricity by transferring water from upper basin to lower basin using integrated turbines. Thus, the dual system of pump-motor/turbine generator maintains a balance between electricity production and consumption.

Duke Energy, one of the largest electric power holding companies in the United States operates several pumped storage power plants. The company plans to upgrade its Bad Creek Hydro Station in South Carolina to increase the capacity of the station to approx. 1640 MW. Employing new hydraulic designs, Duke Energy to gain an increase in capacity equivalent to an entire additional generating unit without building new dams, reservoirs, or powerhouses. Besides, the additional capacity and storage will balance nuclear generation and other renewables while also enhancing ability to produce power during peak hours.

Advances in Lithium-ion Battery Technologies

The rechargeable battery market is currently dominated by Li-ion batteries. As these batteries are used in applications for grid energy storage and electric vehicles, their demand is rising rapidly. Li-ion batteries have key advantages such as their ability to produce high energy density and store energy in smaller packages, making them compatible for use in portable electronic devices. The researchers are looking for ways to increase the performance and safety of lithium-ion batteries while employing more readily available, affordable, and sustainable materials in various components. Besides, due to the use of more stable chemistry, LIBs have longer lifetimes and fast recharge desires, which makes them ideal for electric vehicles. For instance, graphite—the same flaky carbon material used in pencils—is the typical substance utilized for the anode of lithium-ion batteries. However, silicon is a less expensive, more widely accessible substance that is safe and has the ability to store 10 times as much lithium as lithium-ion batteries.

Lithium-ion battery technology has made considerable strides in recent years, owing to advances in technologies. The following are a few of the most notable innovations.

  • Increased energy density: Thanks to new battery chemistries and materials developed by experts, it is now possible to store more energy. Researchers from the Illionois Institute of Technology (IIT) and US Department of Energy’s (DOE) Argonne National Laboratory have developed a new battery called lithium-air battery, which has four times the energy density of lithium-ion batteries, which could power an EV for more than a thousand miles. The new component used in this lithium-air battery is a solid electrolyte rather than the usual liquid variety. The new solid electrolytes composed of a ceramic polymer enable chemical reactions that produce lithium oxide on discharge. Now that lithium-ion batteries can store more energy in a smaller, lighter package, they are ideal for a variety of applications.
  • Accelerated charging times: Thanks to advancements in technology, lithium-ion batteries can now charge faster. This is essential for electric vehicles because prolonged charging times might seriously limit their widespread adoption. To enable fast-charging, researchers have long worked towards improving electrolyte mass transfer and charge transfer in electrodes. Recently, Professor Noriyoshi Matsumi of Japan Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (JAIST) has demonstrated a new way to facilitate quick charging of Li-ion batteries by employing a binder material that enables intercalation of active material. The binder material has low impedance, good stability, and high conductivity.
  • Enhanced stability and safety: Low energy density batteries are vulnerable to energy depletion, which limits their adaptability in electronics and electric vehicles. New materials and designs have enhanced the stability and safety of lithium-ion batteries. Purdue engineers are creating batteries with new composites that remain operational when damaged instead of exploding like conventional batteries. The patent-pending composite material has a wide voltage window of 4.8 bolts, optimized ionic conductivity, excellent thermal stability of up to 330 degrees Celsius, and stability to cell damage.
  • Longer battery life: Thanks to advancements in research, lithium-ion batteries now last longer and retain their capacity over time more effectively. Scientists at the Delft University of Technology in Netherlands have created long-lasting lithium-ion batteries by altering the composition of salts, which makes the battery lose fewer lithium ions during charging and discharging. The low-concentration dimethyl ether electrolyte lengthens the space of batteries by up to two times.

More such innovations in the lithium-ion battery technologies are expected to fuel their greater adoption in the coming years. However, scientists are discovering alternatives to Li-ion batteries that are turning out to be promising energy storage solutions.

Lithium batteries are not favorable to the environment, and it is challenging to meet the rising demand for lithium. The next generation of battery storage will be powered by other battery materials as a result of these restrictions. For instance, given zinc's large supply, innate stability, and low toxicity, zinc-air batteries are a practical substitute for lithium. Batteries made of sodium-sulfur are another effective option. These batteries are made of very affordable materials and have longer lifespans, more charge/discharge cycles, high energy density, and longer lifespans. Other promising battery chemistries include silicon-based batteries, nickel-zinc batteries, aluminum ion batteries, and magnesium ion batteries.

According to TechSci Research report on “Lithium-Ion Battery Market - Global Industry Size, Share, Trends, Competition, Opportunity and Forecast, 2016-2026 Segmented By Type (Lithium Nickel Manganese Cobalt Oxide, Lithium Cobalt Oxide, Lithium Iron Phosphate, Lithium Manganese Oxide, Others), By Shape (Pouch Cell, Cylindrical Cell, Prismatic Cell, Button Cell), By Application (Automotive & Traction, Consumer Electronics, Utilities & ESS, Medical Devices, Telecom Towers, Manufacturing, Others), By Region”, the global lithium-ion battery market is projected to register growth at a significant rate. The market growth can be attributed to the rising sales of electric vehicles and consumer electronics as well as declining prices of lithium batteries. 

Lead Acid Batteries

While many battery startups are investing in the R&D and production of lithium-ion batteries, both newer and more established businesses with extensive lead-acid battery history are also advancing technology in materials and designs to keep up with evolving demands. These advancements have allowed lead-acid batteries to remain relevant in various applications, including automotive starting batteries, backup power systems, renewable energy storage, and telecommunications. While other battery chemistries like lithium-ion have gained popularity, lead-acid batteries continue to evolve and find new applications due to their cost-effectiveness, reliability, and well-established infrastructure.

 Some of the significant advancements in lead-acid battery technology include:

  • Nano-scale Carbon

Recent advancements in nano-scale carbon have led to the construction of carbon lead-acid batteries, which are designed to reduce acid volume requirements and maintenance frequency as well as enable improvements in recharge performance. The GreenSeal bipolar batteries from Advanced Battery Concepts can recharge twice as quickly as conventional lead storage batteries, offer more power, and have a cycle life that is nearly 300% longer. Similarly, Rolls Battery's high-end Series 5000 flooded lead-acid models, intended for home use to large-scale energy storage, have rigid heavy-duty plate structures, which can last over 7,000 cycles at a 20% depth of discharge and 5,000 cycles at nearly a 50% discharge level.

  • Use of Silicon Mats

Absorbent glass mat batteries use silicon in lead battery designs, which have several advantages over lithium-ion or conventional lead. Silicon wafer plates offer strong performance, increase material utilization, eliminate failure mechanisms, and improve performance of conventional lead electrochemistry. Besides, silicon bi-pole batteries have a much longer lifecycle as they allow deeper discharge, which lead to less battery replacements and translates to lower lifetime cost of ownership. Clarios, which produces one-third of all batteries used in passenger cars has developed Smart AGM (absorbent glass mat. When a battery needs to be replaced, the Smart AGM notifies the fleet management software system and transmits battery information through CAN or Bluetooth connectivity. In addition to tracking battery health generally, Smart AGM tracks individual cell performance and gives fleet management predicted evaluations. This, according to Clarios, enables fleets to make wiser replacement choices, maximise battery life, and lower the frequency of battery-related roadside breaks.

  • Better Charging Performance

The charging performance of lead-acid batteries has been an area of focus for battery manufacturers in recent years. Lead-acid batteries can be slow to charge, especially when they have been deeply depleted, which is one of their drawbacks. To solve this problem, new technologies like quick charging and pulse charging have been created. Pulse charging includes putting power into the battery for brief periods of time, which can cut down on the time needed for a full charge. On the other side, fast charging entails raising the charging voltage and current in order to hasten the charging process. Lead-acid batteries may be charged more effectively with the help of any of these technologies, which makes them more suitable for use in high-demand applications.

  • Ultrabattery CSIRO

The Australian Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO)'s Ultrabattery combines an asymmetric ultracapacitor and a lead acid battery. Acting as a buffer while charging and discharging, the capacitor increases the battery's power and lifespan. This is believed to increase power by 50% while extending battery life by a factor of four over conventional lead acid systems. The firm also asserts that hybrid electric vehicle batteries will cost 70% less than they do now. A Honda Insight HEV was used to test CSIRO batteries, and the outcomes were said to be encouraging. Additionally, the battery is being evaluated for start-stop use in micro-hybrid vehicles. The capacity to rapidly charge is a definite benefit over standard lead acid, in contrast to other advanced lead acid batteries. The technology was licensed to Furukawa Battery in Japan, who also produces the battery.

  • EEStor

This is a mystery battery and supercapacitor system that has been attracting a lot of attention these days. The battery promises to have a specific energy of up to 280Wh/kg, which is higher than lithium-ion. It is based on a modified barium titanate ceramic powder. With regard to their invention, the corporation keeps very little information public. Some of their astounding claims include: a self-discharge of only 0.02 percent per month, a fraction of that of lead acid and Li-ion; a weight that is one-tenth that of a NiMH battery in a hybrid application; a 3–6-minute charge time; the absence of hazardous materials; similar manufacturing costs to lead acid. The substantial resistance between the layers prevented relevant energy levels from being detected in 2013 tests. The study is still ongoing.

  • EFB, or Enhanced Flooded Battery

The increased strain caused by a normal starter battery operating in start-stop mode has remained an issue for car manufacturers. Although AGM (absorbent glass mat) batteries can handle the repeat start feature, automobile manufacturers have come up with the enhanced flooded battery (EFB) as a less expensive alternative. The EFB performs better than the regularly flooded variant in tests, although it does not perform as well as AGM. The cost of the battery seems to be directly correlated with performance.

According to TechSci Research report on “Lead Acid Battery Market – Global Industry Size, Share, Trends, Opportunity, and Forecast 2018-2028, Segmented By Product (Stationary, Motive, and Start Light & Ignition Batteries (SLI)), By Construction Method (Flooded and Valve Regulated Led Acid (VRLA) Batteries), By Sales Channel (Original Equipment Market (OEM) & Aftermarket), By Applications (Transportation, Industrial Motive, Stationary Industrial, Residential, and Commercial), By Region”, the global lead acid battery market is expected to register significant growth in the coming years. The market growth can be attributed to the increasing applications of energy storage in the transport sector and rising demand for UPS in various sectors such as banking, oil & gas, healthcare, and chemicals. 

The Rise of Smart Grids for Energy Conservation

The energy demand in cities is increasing at a rapid pace, owing to rising living standards and technological advancements. The traditional power grids were designed for energy production, transmission, and regulation. These lack tracking and real-time control and have significant transmission losses, low power quality, and high risk of rolling blackouts and insufficient electricity supply. For addressing these concerns, the power supply mechanisms need to be replaced with better energy management systems. Smart grids present a viable solution for making power distribution services effective, reliable, and long-lasting. Modernizing the electrical infrastructure and developing sustainable energy sources for all depends heavily on smart grids. The networks' ability to self-heal following a power outage can be made possible by digital communication technologies. The smart grid provides reliable and efficient electricity that benefits the environment and the economy. Here are some of the smart grid components that are expected to shape the future of electricity production, distribution, and storage.

  • Advanced Metering Infrastructure (AMI 2.0)

AMI is no longer just a collection of digital meters that can only manage a small quantity of data and simple operations. Next-generation AMI empowers consumers by providing real-time data and more control over energy use, and aids utilities in creating a resilient grid with a smaller carbon footprint. A deeper understanding of how electricity is used or generated in real time is made possible by next-generation AMI, which consists of edge computing devices with cutting-edge capabilities. This intelligence has a lot of potential advantages for both utilities and customers. Now meters can be used in conjunction with utility smartphone apps to offer a number of services that do not require internet connections due to new features such as the ability to interact over Wi-Fi. To give customers more control over their expenses, Salt River Project in Arizona recently introduced prepayment for power and the ability to establish thresholds for gadgets in their houses. Such capabilities provide residential customers significantly more advantages than AMI 1.0 did, in addition to giving electric utilities new methods to contribute to a smarter grid. Besides, AMI 2.0 support efficient battery life and optimized data.

  • Distribution Automation

Many utilities today rely on customer phone calls to determine whether parts of their distribution system are experiencing power outages. Distribution intelligence in conjunction with smart meters can help them swiftly identify the cause of an outage so that repair teams can be sent to the trouble spot right away. This way, outage response times for utilities can also be improved. Even when power lines are damaged or destroyed, the majority of utilities rely on intricate power distribution systems and manual switching to keep electricity flowing to the majority of their consumers. Power can be diverted to the majority of consumers in a matter of seconds, or possibly even milliseconds, by having sensors that can detect when parts of the distribution system have lost power and by combining automated switching with an intelligent System that decides how to respond to an outage. It may even be able to respond to power outages rapidly enough to only affect people in the nearby area while rerouting the power source for other customers quickly enough to prevent any power outages. This capacity might be the first instance of Smart Grid's much-touted "self-healing" feature in action.

Trends in UPS Market

As businesses today rely on storing digital documents and information on-site, the building’s power supply needs to be maintained at all times. Power supply cut or shortage can compromise an organization’s data centre or security system, which could make businesses prone to cyberattacks. However, sometimes severe weather events, aging public-power grids, or exacerbating electricity demands can lead to frequent outages, which creates a need for efficient and reliable power backup sources. The uninterruptable power supply (UPS) enables businesses and homeowners to have power supply. Here are some of the trends in UPS market that are fuelling the industry’s growth.

  • Mechanical-energy Flywheel Technology

A type of kinetic energy storage known as a flywheel employs revolving discs to store and release rotational energy. Although the technology has been used for many years as a type of UPS to supply power when primary sources fail, it has only lately started to be improved and enhanced. Flywheels can be used to provide short bursts of power for a variety of purposes, including storing excess electricity produced by wind turbines or solar photovoltaic systems during periods of low demand, smoothing out rapid fluctuations in grid voltage or power output from renewable sources, regulating the frequency of alternating current as generators may temporarily operate out of sync with the grid, spinning up and down turbines to maintain constant generator speed (frequency), and powering mobile machinery.

  • Growing Role of UPS in Smart Grids

The role of UPS technology is shifting from the protection of critical loads to the protection of power grids at large. The next-generation UPSs are grid-interactive as they can handle bidirectional flow rather than just unidirectional energy flows. The smart UPSs can also feed energy to the grid without any compromises to their operations. On the one hand, this makes it easier to peak-shave in the short and long terms, which lightens the stress on the grid. On the other side, it encourages the development of renewable energy sources, which are more fluctuating than traditional fossil fuels. Therefore, modern UPSs can significantly contribute to the energy transition by making it possible for grid stabilisation, more localised power management, and advanced control of energy flows. More advancements will focus on how the UPS can manage, store, and use various energy sources in the sake of sustainability, rather than on increasing its own efficiency. For instance, power losses of 3% do not result in any additional emissions if the electricity stored in the UPS of a data centre is 100% renewable.

  • Decentralized Static Bypass Switches and Controls

Modernized UPS systems come with decentralized static-bypass switches and controls for more robustness and efficiency. The traditional systems used to come with switches and controls located in the central area inside the unit, which increased the chances of entire system shutdown in case of a single point of failure. However, decentralizing switches and control removes the risk of entire system shutdown as when one module fails, other pick up the slack and ensure better functionality of the UPS.

  • Lithium-ion Batteries for UPS

Lithium-ion (Li-ion) batteries, which have significant benefits over conventional valve-regulated lead-acid (VRLA) batteries, are now compatible with an increasing number of UPS types. For starters, Li-ion batteries have a two to three times longer lifespan than VRLA batteries and are capable of withstanding higher working temperatures, which is crucial for industrial settings where operation temperatures may be higher than in conventional data centres.

In comparison to VRLA batteries, Li-ion batteries can tolerate more cycles without performance degradation, enhancing availability when it counts. They also require much less time to recharge. A 3-phase UPS with a VRLA battery normally needs 24 hours to charge from 10% to 90%, but Li-ion batteries only need 2 to 4 hours. That's a major advantage because it raises the likelihood that a UPS won't perform as effectively if called upon quickly after anytime it is less than fully charged. Moreover, compared to VRLA batteries, Li-ion batteries are much lighter and smaller, which will further minimise the need for space.

  • Expanding New Markets

In addition to the technological developments that are driving the advancement of UPS systems, market trends are shaping the UPS industry in a way like never before. Businesses like stores, hospitals, and schools are spending money on these systems to make sure they can continue operating if the power grid fails. Any industry that depends on internal computer networks ought to make investments in alternative energy to safeguard its data. Moreover, many homeowners are investing in UPS systems. An uninterruptible power supply is essential as homeowners increasingly rely on technology through smart home gadgets, security systems, and internal entertainment networks. Furthermore, with the the increasing trend of work-from-home and hybrid model, employees seek an uninterrupted power supply to ensure their work does not get hampered.

According to TechSci Research report on “Saudi Arabia UPS Market by Type (Online, Offline, Line Interactive), By Rating (Less than 5kVA, 5.1 kVA - 50 kVA, 50.1 kVA - 200 kVA, Others), By Sector (BFSI, OEM(Manufacturing), Oil & Gas, Power, Healthcare, IT, Housing, Others), By Application (Commercial, Residential, Government, Industrial), By Region, Competition, Forecast & Opportunities, 2028”, the Saudi Arabia UPS market is anticipated to grow at a formidable rate during the forecast period. The market growth can be attributed to the growing need for energy storage and increase in demand for reliable power supply. 

Advancements in Power Banks

Our everyday lives have become dependent on portable power banks, which enable us to keep our smartphones and other devices charged while on the road. Power bank technology has advanced significantly in recent years, and it is anticipated to do so in the years to come. Power banks are currently widely available thanks to the production and sales of numerous businesses. A lot of power banks now include fast charging capabilities and numerous USB ports so you can simultaneously charge many devices thanks to advancements in power bank technology. Power banks are now available in a range of styles, from sleek and slim to tough and durable. They make a desirable accessory for folks who are constantly on the go because some are even created to resemble little laptops or cameras. The incorporation of safety features like overcharge protection, short-circuit protection, and temperature management is another development in the technology underpinning power banks. These characteristics make sure that both the power bank and the item being charged are safeguarded against harm. Power banks have continued to evolve with innovative features and improvements. Here are some of the advanced features in power banks.

  • Faster Charging Rates: Power banks that allow high-wattage charging, such 65W or even 100W, are becoming increasingly widespread. Compared to conventional power banks, these ones could charge gadgets like laptops and tablets far more quickly.
  • Multiple Device Charging: Users were able to charge many devices at once using power banks that had multiple USB ports and even wireless charging capabilities. People who needed to simultaneously charge their cellphones, tablets, and other devices found this capability to be quite helpful.
  • Power Banks with Solar Panels: Some power banks have solar panels built into them, allowing them to use solar energy and recharge when in sunshine. For travellers and outdoor enthusiasts in particular, this functionality offered a convenient and environmentally beneficial charging option.
  • USB-C Power Delivery (PD): Power banks are increasingly utilizing USB-C PD technology. Power banks might provide greater power output and charge gadgets like laptops and gaming consoles with USB-C PD, providing a flexible charging solution.
  • Smart and Slim Portable Power Banks: Power banks have continued to get smaller and slimmer in order to be more portable and easier to carry in pockets or backpacks. Higher energy density was made possible by advancements in battery technology, leading to smaller but more potent power banks.
  • Power banks with smart power management systems: By detecting the device's power needs and adjusting the charging output accordingly, these power banks might avoid overcharging and maximize battery life.
  • Wireless Power Banks: Power banks with built-in wireless charging pads became more prevalent. Users could simply place their Qi-compatible devices on the power bank's surface to initiate wireless charging, eliminating the need for cables.

According to TechSci Research report on “Global Power Bank Market By Battery Type (Lithium-Ion (Li-Ion) Battery, Lithium Polymer (Li-Polymer) Battery), By Capacity (Up to 3,000 mAh, 3,0001 mAh-8000 mAh, 8,001 mAh-20,000 mAh, Above 20,000 mAh), Market Share By Application (Smart Phone, Tablet, Laptop, Portable Media Device, Digital Camera), By Region (North America, Europe, APAC, South America, MEA), Competition Forecast & Opportunities, 2016 – 2026”, the global power bank market is projected to grow at a formidable rate during the forecast period. The market growth can be attributed to the rising demand for quick and fast recharge during travelling and office work and the advent of new technologies. 

Way Ahead

Energy storage has the potential to eliminate the gap between the production of conventional energy, such as coal and gas, and renewable energy sources, like solar and wind, in the future. However, the expansion of renewable energy sources has made the development of energy storage devices a crucial subject of discussion. Emerging technologies have increased dramatically during the last few years.

The performance of current systems has been greatly enhanced by the development of numerous novel new technologies. Energy storage technologies will probably expand more widely as the electrical grid develops. This will provide a more reliable and resilient power grid that can better meet the needs of the growing electricity demand. To fully realize the promise of energy storage devices, several hurdles still need to be overcome in spite of these advancements.

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