A new report has concluded that investment in energy storage technology is vital for the success of renewable energy and its full integration into the energy sector.
According to a new study published by researchers from the University of East Anglia (UAE), government subsidies should be used so as to encourage further investment in energy storage, without which the authors of the report believe renewable energy will struggle to be fully integrated into the energy sector. The inherent variable nature of leading renewable energy technologies such as wind and solar requires energy storage so as to compensate for times when the wind may not be blowing, or the sun may not be shining. Energy storage systems such as reversed hydro power plants, large scale compressed air systems, and battery storage, are quickly being seen to be a vital companion to most, if not all, renewable energy technology installations.
Without energy storage capabilities, the expected increase of renewable energy deployment will only serve to heighten the volatility of failure, according to the researchers, led by Dr Dimitris Zafirakis and Dr Konstantinos Chalvatzis of UEA’s Norwich Business School.
Which is why government subsidies are such a valuable tool at the outset, to encourage investor confidence in the technology. Government subsidies are even more important, according to the researchers, who found that traditional arbitrage — the idea of buying electricity when it is cheap and selling it when it is expensive — is not enough to justify investment in energy storage at the moment. However, investment in energy storage is nevertheless vital if countries are to meet their own decarbonization targets, which increases the value of government subsidies for energy storage technology.
“It is good to adjust subsidies for renewable energy technologies that have reached maturity, but you have to start thinking about subsidizing storage, as this can take us to using 100 per cent renewable energy sources,” said Dr Chalvatzis, a senior lecturer in business and climate change. “We need sufficient storage and more investment in storage systems in order for renewable energy to reach its full potential. Subsidies would encourage investment, which in turn would enable further integration of renewables into the energy sector.
“The fact that for some days countries such as Germany and Portugal are running their entire electricity network exclusively on renewable energy shows how far we have come to rely on it as a power source, and this will continue to increase.”