Last year, energy prices were very volatile, something that is likely to happen more often in the future. In addition, pressure from both international and Dutch laws and regulations to operate a completely CO2-neutral electricity system by 2050, is increasing. It is about time to kickstart the energy transition. But where do we start?
Fossil energy is generated by the combustion of fossil fuels such as oil, natural gas and coal. This has a harmful effect on the environment, due to the large amount of greenhouse gasses that are being released during this process and that contribute to global warming. In addition, fossil fuels are not inexhaustible and will therefore eventually run out. This is expected to happen within 50 years from now.
To inverse the negative effects on the environment and to ensure that the next generation has access to energy as well, various agreements have been made to realize an energy transition. At an international level, this has been established in, among other official agreements, the Paris Agreement. The Netherlands has established this in the Climate Law, the Climate Agreement and the Coalition Agreement. The goal of the Climate Agreement is a reduction of greenhouse gas emissions by 49% in 2030 and 95-100% in 2050. This is a virtually greenhouse gas-free electricity system. So there is a lot of pressure on companies to contribute to the energy transition.
Together, we are making a transition from generating energy in the conventional way to generating energy from renewable sources, such as wind power and solar power. These processes of generating energy are considerably less harmful to the environment. Moreover, these resources are inexhaustible. In addition, this way organizations become less dependent on the grid, which will result in considerable savings. The first step in the energy transition is therefore the generation of renewable energy. But where do we store this energy?
Challenges related to managing renewable energy
The strength of wind or solar power at a certain point in time is highly dependent on many factors, such as the weather and seasons. The sun does not shine at night and the wind force is always changing, while we do need certain amounts of energy on a regular basis. Conversely, a surplus of energy can arise as well, when more is produced than is used at a certain point in time. Due to these fluctuations, the balance between energy production and energy consumption is more dynamic and out of sync than when we were mainly generating fossil energy.
In the Netherlands in 2020, 11.1% of total energy consumption originated from renewable energy sources. In the same year, more than 31 billion kilowatt hours of electricity were produced using renewable power sources. That makes up for 26% of the total electricity consumption. It would be a shame to generate sustainable energy, just to let it go to waste. How do we solve this?
If we wish to assure ourselves of a sufficient amount of power at any time, energy storage is necessary. A study by order of the European Commission even shows that this is a crucial element in the realization of the energy transition. When a large part of our energy originates in wind or solar power, the importance of a flexible energy system will increase. However, the pace at which the electricity network is evolving and renewable energy sources are being connected to it, is low. This even limits the amount of sustainable energy that we are able to generate, since at times when the sun is shining and all solar panels are switched on, the grid would be overloaded. As a result, it is increasingly common for solar panels and parks to be temporarily switched off by network operators.
Advantages of energy storage in batteries
A storage solution that already exists, is the use of batteries for the storage of excess electricity from peak production of wind turbines and solar panels, amongst other renewable energy sources. This method produces the smallest conversion losses, in contrast to, for example, chemical storage such as electrolysis. In addition, a battery has the ability to absorb and dispense large amounts of energy at a high rate.
The SmartGrid batteries have a large capacity, fast charge and discharge speeds and come in different sizes. This provides organizations with energy security, without being fully dependent on the grid. The batteries are smart and scalable, which means that this is a long-term solution that is in sync with the energy transition.
“Storage systems are a vital part of the energy transition, as it links energy generation with energy consumption. SmartGrid excel at providing large-scale stationary and mobile applications that offer safe, flexible, and highly reliable storage capacity, with relatively short delivery times”, Kees Koolen, CEO & Founder of Koolen Industries.