Efficient Long-Duration Energy Storage Solutions are the key drivers towards the region’s Net Zero Goals

June 15, 2023

By Dr. Avishek Kumar, Co-Founder & CEO, VFlowTech

While ‘#beatplasticpollution’ is the main hashtag and theme of World Environment Day in 2023, we cannot ignore that there is so much more that can be done for the environment in our efforts to make Earth cleaner and greener for its inhabitants. As we work towards alleviating plastic pollution, we should also look at major environmental issues and aim to mitigate them.

Industrially, lithium batteries are used due to its energy density; you can put more energy into a lithium battery than lead acid batteries with longer lifespan. This resulted in the increased usage of lithium batteries in many applications and in the replacement of lead acid batteries in transport vehicles and grid applications. However, lithium batteries are not being recycled due to the tripling of price of battery grade lithium hydroxide.

On the other hand, vanadium redox flow batteries, as an alternative battery option for energy storage and a key BESS technology, is not only safer but also offers a highly favourable environmental footprint for large-scale energy storage solutions compared to the more widely used lithium-ion battery technology. The reusability of the vanadium electrolyte and the ability to utilise material supply from waste is a good demonstration of how the circular economy should work. Most, if not all the materials used in the vanadium redox flow battery are recyclable.

Additionally, heightened awareness towards the importance of investing in and developing sustainable solutions is already evident in Southeast Asia, where there is a strong drive to accelerate sustainable development to meet sustainability targets and mitigate climate change vulnerabilities. Carbon emissions are especially concerning for the region considering soaring energy demand, with current projections estimating a 139 percent rise in emissions per capita between 2015 and 2040.

As a result, Southeast Asia is steadily shifting to renewable energy to address these concerns and meet the requirements of a fast-growing population. Yet, discovering innovative ways to generate renewable energy is simply the first step; storing this energy is another crucial factor that cannot be overlooked.

Southeast Asia’s road to net-zero emissions

According to studies such as the Renewable Energy Outlook for ASEAN, Southeast Asia’s renewable energy sources could cover around two-thirds of its energy demand by 2030. However, renewable energy storage must be developed in tandem with energy generation capacity for a truly sustainable, optimised journey towards achieving net-zero goals.

Vietnam, for example, has undergone a solar boom in recent years, increasing its solar capacity from 85 MW in 2017 to approximately 17,000 MW in 2021. Yet, its present grid infrastructure has been unable to cope with supply spikes, prompting renewable energy facilities to restrict their operations. Hence, as essential as renewable energy sources are, it is the availability of efficient energy infrastructure that will determine their viability – and effective, long-duration energy storage solutions will be a vital pillar in the success of developing renewable energy for mainstream use.

Long-duration energy storage optimises renewable energy systems

By peak shifting renewables and correcting power imbalances from dynamic intermittent loads, long-duration energy storage solutions enhance energy system’s versatility, reliability, and stability.

Correcting power supply and demand imbalances

Unpredictable weather and environmental factors can often lead to inherent oscillations in wind and solar photovoltaic technology (PV) output, making the addition of renewables to the electrical mix a potential cause of power surplus and deficit incidents.

Thus, in the event of prolonged periods of insufficient light or wind, long-duration energy storage solutions will be critical for power grids to deploy as they can maintain a supply-and-demand balance that optimises such renewable sources.

Adapting to changes in power flow transmissions

Renewable energy can be obtained from many different sites, ranging from residential solar panels on homes to batteries in electric vehicles. These fluctuating geographical supply patterns can affect energy flow transfers, which can impair voltage regulation, stability, and even supply timeliness.

For example, renewable energy networks may have energy transmission delays since they are often located in places with abundant wind and solar supply, distant from metropolitan centres. Moreover, sudden spikes in energy flow could potentially trigger widespread power outages as an emergency countermeasure. Long-duration energy storage solutions will be critical in these situations because they can act as a buffer, mitigating risks associated with potential energy flow issues and disruptions.

Improving convenience and efficiency

While traditional electrochemical batteries have been criticised for being environmentally unfriendly and having storage capacity limitations, there is no doubt that they are necessary for the mass electrification of large-scale industries (automotives, etc). This dilemma has given rise to innovations such as vanadium redox flow batteries, which aim to provide a viable battery solution for renewable energy storage.

As an example, vanadium redox flow batteries composed of reusable electrolytes can reduce carbon emissions associated with initial battery manufacturing processes, yet they are significantly more productive than their counterparts due to their ability to store greater quantities of power and having longer discharge durations from hours to a few days.

Increasingly varied battery designs also widen battery utility for both residential and commercial energy storage, unlocking the potential for more economic and infrastructural development in far-flung areas. Additionally, many such batteries can now be coupled with an intelligent smart energy management system to further improve energy optimisation.


Powering sustainability

Individuals and companies are becoming more empowered to join the net zero fight as sophisticated energy storage solutions become increasingly accessible. In fact, studies estimate that long-duration energy storage systems could result in the avoidance of 1.5 to 2.3 gigatonnes of carbon emissions annually by 2040.

Consequently, employing long duration energy storage solutions certainly qualifies as ‘Investing in Our Planet’ since we are maximising renewable energy potential and avoiding the unnecessary consumption of non-renewable sources.

Photo by Mark Stebnicki: https://www.pexels.com/photo/field-of-a-solar-panels-15751120/

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