Renewables the future of power generation – but energy storage is needed

July 23, 2014

Renewables the future of power generation – but energy storage is needed

There are still plenty of debates out there as to what power generation models will prove most instrumental in the near future. The global power market can experience significant diversity in terms of operational needs and many people still believe that nuclear power generation will be important for a long time. However, a recent report from The Ecologist pointed to a wide range of studies to illustrate that a large-scale move to renewables could be possible much sooner than popular opinion holds, especially if energy storage systems and intelligent grid management features become more common.

The oncoming growth of renewables
Pointing to both partisan and non-partisan studies, the news source explained that many industry projections expect renewables to dominate the clean energy market. While investments in clean energy in general have declined in recent years, a close look at studies on the subject shows that while spending is down on the whole, funding for renewable energy projects makes up the vast majority of clean power investments. This represents a key point in favor of renewables instead of nuclear power or fossil-fuel-based energy moving forward.

Establishing a timeline for increased renewables use
Again, The Ecologist pointed a variety of studies, and the diversity of examples was clear in what the news source found. There are some studies that predict renewables will generate between 30 and 36 percent of the world’s power as of 2030 (The International Renewable Energy Agency), while some longer-term assessments anticipate that renewable power could make up as much as 100 percent of all energy generated in markets like the European Union as early as 2050.

The Global Energy Assessment simultaneously acknowledges that widespread renewables use is coming, but also warns against being overly optimistic. This research predicts that, as of 2050, some countries will have 90 percent of their power generated by renewables, while others feature 75 percent or as low as 30 percent of energy coming from renewables, The Ecologist reported.

With such a varied outlook for the future, the news source pointed out that any vision for large-scale dependence on variable renewables hinges on the industry’s ability to quickly get energy storage systems and intelligent grid architectures underway.

Using energy storage to enable renewable use
Lithium ion batteries and similar energy storage solutions that can promote large-scale storage functionality play a key role in supporting renewables by capturing excess power generated during peak periods and making it available at alternative times. Such solutions are essential in overcoming the inherent limitations of variable renewables and establishing a framework for large-scale renewable energy use.