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Grid Power


32 IEEE power & energy magazine 1540-7977/09/$25.00©2009 IEEE july/august 2009

Performance, Purpose,
and Promise of Different
Storage Technologies

By Bradford Roberts

that they can accept large amounts of renewable energy resources are fairly universally
accepted as steps necessary to achieve a clean and secure electric power industry. The
best way to achieve this goal is a topic of debate among power system designers. Although
energy storage in utility grids has existed for many decades, the impact of storage in
future grids is receiving more attention than ever from system designers, grid operations
and regulators. The amount of storage in a grid and its value is also a subject of debate.
Understanding the leading storage technologies and how they can affect grid operations is
an important first step in this assessment.

Why Storage in the Grid?

In April 2003, the U.S. Department of Energy convened a meeting of 65 senior executives
representing the electric utility industry, equipment manufacturers, information technol-
ogy providers, federal and state government agencies, interest groups, universities, and
national laboratories. They gathered to discuss the future of the North American electrical
system. The goal of the meeting was to establish “Grid 2030,” a national vision for elec-
tricity’s second 100 years. From that meeting, energy storage emerged as one of the top
five concerns for the future grid. And since that meeting, more attention has been given
to storage in the grid at all levels, from large-scale bulk-storage systems to small units at
or near the point of load. Other nations are ahead of the United States with regard to bulk
storages; they recognized the value to grid operations sooner. The future of electric grids
will be impacted by a growing penetration of plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs) and
electric vehicles (EVs), which will represent a new dimension for grid management; vast
amounts of energy storage will be present in the grid in the form of millions of electric
cars. Gigawatts to kilowatts, electricity storage devices will change the grid dramatically.

Spectrum of Electricity Storage

In industrialized countries, nearly every person depends on some form of energy storage
everyday. Every electronic device depends on battery power to function properly; think
of your cell phone or laptop computer. These storage energy devices continue to evolve
as newer applications are introduced. One application that is having a great impact on
potential utility grid applications is electric cars. The technologies that have worked in
electronic devices are being scaled up for higher power use in cars and the electric grid.
Figure 1 shows a storage technology chart published by the Electricity Storage Associa-
tion (ESA) that shows various technologies in terms of total power (kW) and energy
capacity (time).

Digital Object Identifier 10.1109/MPE.2009.932876

july/august 2009 IEEE power & energy magazine 33

power plants dominate, with
System Ratings approximately 100 GW in service
Installed Systems as of November 2008 around the globe.
In general terms, power appli-
PSH cations would be storage systems
rated for one hour or less, and
10 Na-S
energy applications would be for
Discharge Time (h)

1 Zn-Br longer periods. The chart in Fig-
L/A ure 2 shows the positioning of en-
Ni-MH Ni-Cd
0.1 ergy storage options by application
(power level) and storage time.
0.01 Na-S Potential applications of each
of these technologies are being
0.001 EDLC found in the electric grid—in
the transmission system for bulk
0.0001 storage, in the residential feeder
0.001 0.01 0.1 1 10 100 1,000 10,000
Rated Power (MW) ci rcuit for sma ller systems.
The location in the grid will
CAES Compressed Air Ni-Cd Nickel-Cadmium
vary based on the economics of
EDLC Dbl-Layer Capacitors Ni-MH Nickel-Metal Hydride
FW Flywheels PSH Pumped Hydro the technology.
L/A Lead-Acid VR Vanadium Redox
Li-lon Lithium-Ion Zn-Br Zinc-Bromine Wise Investments
Na-S Sodium-Sulfur in the Past
Utility system designers have seen
the benefits of massive amounts
figure 1. Electricity storage by technology.
of energy storage in the form of
pumped hydro power plants.
Power applications, such as uninterruptible power A typical pumped hydro plant consists of two interconnected
supply (UPS) backup for data centers and automotive reservoirs (lakes), tunnels that convey water from one reservoir
starting batteries, represent the largest market for lead- to another, valves, hydro machinery (a water pump-turbine),
acid batteries, whereas laptop batteries and power tools a motor-generator, transformers, a transmission switchyard,
have fueled incredible growth for lithium-ion. For and a transmission connection (Figure 3). The product of the
bulk energy storage in utility grids, pumped hydro total volume of water and the differential height between
reservoirs is proportional to the
amount of stored electricity. Thus,
Positioning of Energy Storage Options storing 1,000 MWh (deliverable in
UPS Grid Support Energy Management a system with an elevation change
Power Quality Load Shifting Bridging Power Bulk Power Management of 300 m) requires a water volume

of about 1.4 million m3.

Discharge Time at Rated Power

Metal-Air Batteries Flow Batteries Pumped

ZrBr VRB PSB Novel Systems Hydro The earliest k nown use of
NaS Battery Advanced Lead pumped hydro technology was in
Acid Battery CAES
Super Caps ZEBRA Battery Zurich, Switzerland, in 1882. For
Li-Lon Battery nearly a decade, a pump and tur-

Lead-Acid Battery bine operated with a small reservoir

NiCd as a hydromechanical storage sys-
NiMH tem. Beginning in the early 1900s,

several small hydroelectric pumped

High-Power Fly Wheels
storage plants were constructed in
High-Power Super Caps SMES Europe, mostly in Germany. The
first unit in North America was
1 kW 10 kW 100 kW 1 MW 10 MW 100 MW 1 GW
the Rocky River pumped storage
System Power Ratings
plant, constructed in 1929 on the
c 2008 Electric Power Research Institute, Inc. All rights reserved.
Housatonic River in Connecticut.
Most of these early units were
figure 2. Storage technology application comparison. relatively expensive since they had

34 IEEE power & energy magazine july/august 2009

All of the energy storage technologies discussed are targeting ways
to help the utility grid cope with balancing generation and load
in the most optimal ways possible.

a motor and pump on one shaft and a separate shaft with a the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) have
generator and turbine. Subsequent developments through the been made for additional pumped hydro facilities. These
middle of the 20th century typically used a tandem system new plants represent 20 GW of new storage capacity that
with a single vertical shaft that had a motor-generator at the could be added to the U.S. grid.
top, above a pump, and a turbine at the bottom. Whereas
some of the earliest units used propellers, both the pump Compressed Air Energy Storage
and the turbine in these later developments were usually of Compressed air energy storage (CAES) is a peaking gas
the Francis type, which uses flow inlet converted to axial turbine power plant that consumes less than 40% of the
flow outlet. Wicket gates, eventually under hydraulic gas used in a combined-cycle gas turbine (and 60% less gas
control, regulated the power level. An advantage of the Fran- than is used by a single-cycle gas turbine) to produce the
cis turbine shape is high efficiency, but in this configuration, same amount of electric output power. This is accomplished
it operates best with a very limited head range. by blending compressed air to the input fuel to the turbine.
It was realized early on that a Francis turbine could also By compressing air during off-peak periods when energy
operate as a pump, but it was not used for both purposes until prices are very low, the plant’s output can produce electricity
the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) and Allis-Chalmers during peak periods at lower costs than conventional stand-
constructed the Hiwassee Dam Unite 2 in 1956. This unit alone gas turbines can achieve.
was a true reversible pump-turbine and, at 59.5 MW, it was Making the CAES concept work depends on locat-
larger than earlier installations. Developments in technology ing plants near appropriate underground geological
and materials over the next three decades improved overall formations, such as mines, salt caverns, or depleted gas
efficiency, reduced start-up issues, and allowed larger and wells. The fi rst commercial CAES plant was a 290-MW
larger units to be constructed. unit built in Handorf, Germany, in 1978, and the second
The next major breakthrough, the variable speed commercial site was a 110-MW unit built in McIntosh,
design, was developed mainly in Japan. In most of the early Alabama, in 1991. These units are fast-acting plants and
designs, the only knob available to the operator was water typically can be in service in 15 min when called upon for
flow, which was controlled by moving the wicker gates, but power. The plants used a fairly complex turbomachinery
in this design, an adjustable-speed motor-generator allows design integrated with a combined motor-generator and
the shaft rotation rate to change as well. By optimizing custom components.
the two variables, the unit can be dispatched at optimum Today, the Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI) has
efficiency over a large power range. The fi rst adjustable- an advanced CAES program designed around a simpler
speed system unit was constructed for use in Japan and
became operational in 1990. Recently, an adjustable-speed
system was constructed at Goldisthal in Thuringia, Ger-
many. Two of the four 265-MW units at this plant are ad- Pumped Storage
justable speed.
Today, the global capacity of pumped hydro storage U.S. Capacity 22,000 MW
World’s Capacity 110,000 MW
plants totals more than 95 GW, with approximately 20
70–85% Efficient Reservoir
GW operating in the United States. The original intent
of these plants was to provide off-peak base loading for
large coal and nuclear plants to optimize their overall Elevator
performance and provide peaking energy each day. Their
duty has since been expanded to include providing an- Access Tunnel
Surge Chamber
cillary service functions, such as frequency regulation in
the generation mode. The newer adjustable-speed system
design allows pumped hydro plants to provide ancillary
service (frequency) capability in the “pumping” mode as
well, which increases overall plant efficiency. Filings with figure 3. Typical pumped hydroelectric storage plant.

july/august 2009 IEEE power & energy magazine 35

would have an initial rating of
800 MW. In addition to these
CT Module Air larger plants, EPRI has been
Expander studying an aboveground CAES
alternative with high-pressure air
Compressor Motor
Air Fuel stored in a series of large pipes.
These smaller systems are target-
Combustion Turbine Exhaust Recuperator ed at ratings of up to 15 MW for
two hours.

Constant Output Pressure Regulation Valve Battery Energy Storage

Advancements in battery tech-
nology over the last 20 years
Heat Rate 3810 have been driven primarily by
Energy Ratio 0.70
Storage the use of batteries in consumer
elect ron ics a nd power tools.
Source: EPRI Only in the last ten years—with
c 2008 Electric Power Research Institute, Inc. All rights reserved.

efforts to design better batteries

figure 4. Advanced CAES one-line diagram. for transportation—have pos-
sible uses of battery technology
for the power grid emerged. One
system using advanced turbine technology. Figure 4 shows a driver that has helped make potential utility applications
basic diagram of an advanced CAES design. possible is more efficient cost-effective power electron-
This proposed concept is targeted at plants in the 150– ics. For battery technologies to be practically applied
400 MW range with underground storage reservoirs of up in the ac utility grid, reliable power conversion systems
to 10 hours of compressed air at 1,500 lbf/in2. Depend- (PCSs) that convert battery dc power to ac were needed.
ing on the reservoir size, multiple units could be deployed. These devices now exist and have many years of service
The largest plant under consideration in the United States experience, which makes a wide range of battery tech-
nologies practical for grid sup-
port applications.
Exponential Improvement in Performance
Figure 5 shows the steady in-
crease in the energy density of
batteries since the first lead-acid
Lithium Ion batteries were introduced in the
110–140 Wh/kg mid-19th century.
A la rge va r iet y of bat t er y
types are being used for grid sup-
port applications.
Specific Energy

Nickel-Metal Hydride
Sodium Sulfur Batteries
50–75 Wh/kg The sodium sulfur (NaS) battery
is a high-temperature battery sys-
Nickel-Cadmium tem that consists of a liquid (mol-
35–60 Wh/kg
ten) sulfur positive electrode and a
molten sodium negative electrode
Lead-Acid 30–40 Wh/kg separated by a solid beta alumina
25–45 Wh/kg ceramic electrolyte (Figure 6). The
electrolyte allows only positive
sodium ions to pass through it and
combine with the sulfur to form
1860 1910 1960 2010
sodium polysulfides.
Time of First Introduction During discharge, positive
c 2008 Electric Power Research Institute, Inc. All rights reserved. sodium ions flow through the
electrolyte and electrons f low
figure 5. Exponential improvement in battery performance. in the external circuit of the

36 IEEE power & energy magazine july/august 2009

battery, producing about 2 V.
This process is reversible since
Sodium Sulfur Battery - NAS
charging causes sodium poly-
sulfides to release the positive Beta
2 V Cell Alumina 2V
sodium ions back through the +
NA Exchange Tube − +
electrolyte to recombine as 89% Efficient
elemental sodium. The battery 2,500 Cycle Life
operates at about 300 °C. NaS
battery cells are efficient (about
89%). This battery system is Molten
50 kW, 6 h Module Thermal Na S
capable of six hours of dis- Enclosure Na2S4
charge time on a daily basis. Cell

NaS battery technology was Na+
originally developed in the 1960s
for use in early electric cars, but
was later abandoned for that ap- Sulfur
plication. NaS battery technol- −
ogy for large-scale applications + Sketch of a 2 V NAS Battery Cell
Terminals Thermal Enclosure
was perfected in Japan. Current-
ly, there are 190 battery systems
in service in Japan, totaling more figure 6. NaS battery cell construction.
than 270 MW of capacity with
stored energy suitable for six hours of daily peak shaving. the negative electrode surface of the reactor cell, as shown
The largest single NaS battery installation is a 34-MW, in Figure 8.
245-MWh system for wind power stabilization in northern The bromide is converted to bromine at the positive
Japan (Figure 7). The battery will allow the output of the surface of the electrode in the reactor cell and then is stored
51-MW wind farm to be 100% dispatchable during on- in the other electrolyte tank as a safe chemically complex
peak periods. oily liquid. To discharge the battery, the process is reversed,
In the United States, utilities have deployed 9 MW of
NaS batteries for peak shaving, backup power, firming wind
capacity, and other applications.
Another high-temperature battery, which is based
on sodium nickel chloride chemistry, is used for elec-
tric transportation applications in Europe. Known as the
Zebra battery, it is being considered for utility applica-
tions as well.

Flow Battery Technology

Flow batteries perform similarly to a hydrogen fuel cell.
They employ electrolyte liquids flowing through a cell
stack with ion exchange through a microporous mem-
brane to generate an electrical charge. Several different figure 7. A 34-MW, 245-MWh NaS battery installation.
chemistries have been developed for use in utility power
applications. An advantage of flow battery designs is the
ability to scale systems independently in terms of power
and energy. More cell stacks allows for an increase in Porous
Zinc Separator
power rating; a greater volume of electrolytes translates Deposit Bromine
to more runtime. Plus, flow batteries operate at ambient Electrode
− + Pump
(rather than high) temperature levels.
Zinc-bromine flow batteries are being used for utility


applications. The battery functions with a solution of zinc

bromide salt dissolved in water and stored in two tanks.
The battery is charged or discharged by pumping the elec- Complex Phase
trolytes through a reactor cell. During the charging cycle,
metallic zinc from the electrolyte solution is plated onto figure 8. Zinc-bromine flow battery diagram.

july/august 2009 IEEE power & energy magazine 37

The future of electric grids will be impacted by a growing
penetration of plug-in hybrid electric vehicles and electric vehicles,
which will represent a new dimension for grid management.

used in any duty cycle and does not have self-discharge

characteristics that can cause damage like other battery
technologies can.
Flow battery manufacturers are using modular
construction to create different system ratings and dura-
tion times. Figure 9 shows a zinc-bromine flow battery pack-
age with a rating of 500 kW for two hours. Other packages
are being applied at utilities with system ratings of up to 2.8
MWh packaged in a 53-ft trailer.
Another type of flow battery is the vanadium redox
battery (VRB). During the charge and discharge cycles,
figure 9. Zinc-bromine flow battery system (500 kW). positive hydrogen ions are exchanged between the two
(Photo courtesy of Altairnano.) electrolyte tanks through a hydrogen-ion permeable polymer
membrane. Like the zinc-bromine battery, the VRB system’s
and the metallic zinc plated on the negative electrode is dis- power and energy ratings are independent of each other.
solved in the electrolyte solution and available for the next Numerous other chemistries are being developed around the
charge cycle. flow battery concept. New startup companies are expected to
One of the advantages of flow batteries is that their announce flow battery technologies in the next few years.
construction is based on plastic components in the reactor
stacks, piping, and tanks for holding the electrolytes. The Lithium-Ion Batteries
result is that the batteries are relatively light in weight The battery technology with the broadest base of
and have a longer life. The typical flow battery can be applications today is the lithium-ion battery. This technol-
ogy can be applied in a wide variety of shapes and sizes,
allowing the battery to efficiently fill the available space,
Lithium-Ion Battery Storage System such as a cell phone or laptop computer. In addition to their
packaging flexibility, these batteries are light in weight
relative to aqueous battery technologies, such as lead-acid
batteries. As previously shown in Figure 5, lithium-ion bat-
teries have the highest power density of all batteries on the
commercial market on a per-unit-of-volume basis. Safety
issues with lithium-ion batteries in laptop computers have
been a recent concern, but continued development of the
technology for PHEV application has resulted in newer
types of lithium-ion cells with more sophisticated cell
management systems to improve performance and safety.
The leading lithium-ion cell design being applied in
new PHEV designs is a combination of lithiated nickel,
cobalt, and aluminum oxides, referred to as an NCA cell.
The design’s life characteristics on float and cycling duty
have made NCA cells the primary choice for the next
generation of PHEVs. Two lithium-ion designs that are
starting to be used in higher-power utility grid applica-
tions are lithium titanate and lithium iron phosphate.

figure 10. A 1,000 kWh lithium-ion battery system ap- Lithium Titanate
plied in a utility frequency regulation application (photo The lithium titanate approach uses manganese in the
courtesy of ZBB Energy Corporation). cathode and titanate anodes. This chemistry results in a

38 IEEE power & energy magazine july/august 2009

As countries around the world continue to increase
their renewable energy portfolio, the participation of storage
in the success formula needs attention.

very stable design with fast-charge capability and good Advanced Lead-Acid Batteries
performance at lower temperatures. The batteries can be The high volume of production of lead-acid batteries
discharged to 0% and appear to have a relatively long life. offers a tremendous opportunity for expanded use of these
Figure 10 shows a lithium-titanate battery in a utility power batteries if their life could be significantly extended in
ancillary service application (frequency regulation). cycling applications. Adding carbon to the negative elec-
trode seems to be the answer. Lead-acid batteries fail due
Lithium Iron Phosphate to sulfation in the negative plate that increases as they are
The lithium-ion battery using iron phosphate cathodes is cycled more.
a newer and safer technology. In this chemistry, it is much Adding as much as 40% of activated carbon to the
more difficult to release oxygen from the electrode, which negative electrode composition increases the battery’s life.
reduces the risk of fire in the battery cells. This design is Estimates of a cycling life improvement of up to 2,000
more resistant to overcharge when operated in a range of up cycles represent a three to four times improvement over
to 100% state of charge. current lead-acid designs. This extended life coupled with
As mentioned previously, lithium-ion batteries are used in the lower costs will lead storage developers to revisit lead-
a wide variety of applications and will benefit from economy acid technology for grid applications.
of scale in production over the next decade. As shown in
Figure 10, the ancillary services market appears to be the Nickel-Cadmium Batteries
most available opportunity in utility power applications. As shown in Figure 5, which depicts the exponential
As volume production increases, the future cost of growth in the power density of batteries, nickel-cadmium
lithium-ion battery systems will play a key role in how fast (Ni-Cad) batteries represented a substantial increase in
they penetrate utility power applications. battery power in the middle of the last century. The Ni-Cad
battery quickly gained a reputation as a rugged, durable
Lead-Acid Batteries stored energy source with good cycling capability and a
The lead-acid battery is the oldest and most mature of broad discharge range. Ni-Cad batteries have been applied
all battery technologies. Because of the wide use of in a variety of backup power applications and were cho-
lead-acid batteries in a wide variety of applications, sen to provide “spinning reserve” for a transmission proj-
including automotive starting and ect in Alaska. This project involves a
UPS use, lead-acid batteries have the 26-MW Ni-Cad battery rated for 15
lowest cost of all battery technolo- min, which represents the largest bat-
gies. For utility power application, tery in a utility application in North
a 40-MWh lead-acid battery was America. The project was featured in
installed in the Southern California the March/April 2005 issue of IEEE
g r id i n 1988 to demonst rate the Power & Energy Magazine. Ni-Cad
peak shaving capabilities of batter- batteries are still being used for util-
ies in a grid application. The battery ity applications, such as power ramp
demonstrated the value of stored rate control for “smoothing” wind
energy in the grid, but the lim- farm power variability in areas with
ited cycling capability of lead acid weak power grids (such as island
made the overall economics of the power systems).
system unacceptable.
For back up power sou rces i n Flywheel Energy Storage
large power plants, lead-acid battery Spinning a weighted mass on the end
plants are still used as “black start” of the shaft of an electrical motor or
sources in case of emergencies. generator to provide “ride-through”
Their long life and lower costs make figure 11. A 100-kWh high-speed energy during short input power sags
them ideal for applications with low flywheel assembly (photo courtesy of or outages is a concept that has been
duty cycles. Beacon Power Corporation). around for decades. Slow-speed (up to

july/august 2009 IEEE power & energy magazine 39

Utility system designers have seen the benefits
of massive amounts of energy storage in the form of pumped
hydro power plants.

8,000 r/min) steel flywheels have been used as “battery use metal for one of the electrodes have a significantly larger
substitutes” in the UPS market for many years. These energy density than the symmetric ones do and also have a
devices are practical for ride-through times of up to 30 s. lower leakage current.
Achieving longer storage times at high power levels Compared with lead-acid batteries, electrochemical
requires significant changes to the flywheel design and capacitors have lower energy density, but they can be cycled
choice of materials. In the simplest terms, the amount of hundreds of thousands of times and are much more powerful
energy that can be stored kinetically in a flywheel is a than batteries (fast charge and discharge capability).
function of the cube of rotational speed. Higher speeds Supercapacitors have been applied for blade-pitch control
translate to higher energy storage densities. devices for individual wind turbine generators to control the
Modern flywheel energy storage systems considered rate at which power increases and decreases with changes
for utility power applications consist of a massive rotating in wind velocity. This functionality is desirable if wind
cylinder, as shown in Figure 11. turbines are connected to weak utility power grids.
The cylinder is “weighted” with most of the mass located
on the outer edge to increase the moment of inertia and maxi- New Battery Technology
mize the amount of energy stored. Flywheels of this design With the growing interest in energy storage for greater
can be operated in a vacuum and supported on magnetically use in transportation and renewable energy, research
levitated bearings. This assembly is considered the “stator” activities are increasing in private industry, universities,
of a motor-generator, with the outer shell acting as the gener- and national laboratories. In North America, the U.S.
ator portion of the device. Typical operating speeds are up to Congress mandated increased funding for research and
60,000 r/min. Actual delivered energy depends on the speed development (R&D) in energy storage. Major universities,
range of the flywheel. For example, above a 3:1 speed range, including the Massachusetts Institute of Technology
a flywheel will deliver up to 90% of its stored energy to an (MIT), are working to design new storage technologies.
external load. MIT is investigating ways to create very large-scale
Currently, high-speed flywheel systems rated 1,000 batteries capable of storing enormous amounts of power
kW (15 min) or larger are being deployed in the U.S. grid in the utility grid.
for frequency regulation use. At least three independent
system operators (ISOs) have opened their markets for Thermal Storage
fast-response systems, such as flywheels and battery- All of the energy storage technologies discussed are
powered systems. targeting ways to help the utility grid cope with balanc-
ing generation and load in the most optimal ways possible.
Electrochemical Capacitors Traditionally, utility grids have been designed to deal with
Commonly called “supercapacitors,” electrochemical the highest load peaks that typically occur less than a few
capacitors look and perform similar to lithium-ion hours per day for only a few days per year. Just like batter-
batteries. They store energy in the two series capacitors of ies and peaking generators, any storage device that helps
the electric double layer (EDL), which is formed between meet this objective should be considered in utility system
each of the electrodes and the electrolyte ions. The dis- planning. Thermal storage devices that can be deployed at
tance over which the charge separation occurs is just a the residential and commercial level should be given more
few angstroms. The extremely large surface area makes attention. Modular ice storage systems can generate ice
the capacitance and energy density of these devices thou- during off-peak power periods to power air-conditioning
sands of times larger than those of conventional electro- systems for several hours each day during the peak after-
lytic capacitors. noon load times. Similarly, in cold climates, modular heat
The electrodes are often made with porous carbon storage systems can capture electric power during off-
material. The electrolyte is either aqueous or organic. The peak periods and use that energy to store heat in a ceramic
aqueous capacitors have a lower energy density due to heatsink to be dispatched during higher peak periods in
a lower cell voltage, but are less expensive and work in a the winter. As more utilities consider real-time pricing of
wider temperature range. The asymmetrical capacitors that energy based on actual cost, all forms of energy storage

40 IEEE power & energy magazine july/august 2009

One of the advantages of flow batteries is that their construction
is based on plastic components in the reactor stacks, piping, and
tanks for holding the electrolytes.

will provide more value and contribute to lowering the to add value to wind resources by reducing the impact of
overall peak demand. wind availability. Like wind power, storage can benefit from
This concept is not limited to small applications. In financial stimulus to support its growth and demonstrate its
Europe, a very large thermal storage system (up to 10,000 value in actual performance. The United States, Japan, and
MWh) is being proposed. Germany currently benefit from having fairly large amounts
of storage (pumped hydro) in their grids. Recognizing the
What About Hydrogen? value of storage in dealing with the variability of renewable re-
The development of hydrogen-based fuel cells as clean sources is essential to harnessing the maximum potential of
energy sources continues around the world. In the wind and solar power. Fortunately, storage systems used
transportation arena, PHEVs appear to be developing a in grid applications will benefit from the huge investment
commanding lead over fuel cell-powered vehicles as the in electric-based transportation. In fact, the growth
clean energy choice. Proponents of a hydrogen economy of EVs to 50 million units (15-kW capacity average)
argue that large wind farms could be used to power by 2030 would dwarf the installed capacity of major
hydrogen-processing facilities and that pipelines—in lieu renewable energy sources. The real technology challenge
of large electrical transmission lines—could carry bulk will be making all of the new electric power resources func-
hydrogen—as the energy source—to major population tion in a fully integrated “smart grid.”
centers. Like today’s large natural gas pipeline networks
that store gas conveniently in the system to match cus- For Further Reading
tomer demand, hydrogen would be stored as necessary to DOE Electricity Advisory Committee. (2008). Bottling
match the demand for fuel cells for electricity and hydro- electricity: Storage as a strategic tool for managing vari-
gen-powered cars. ability and capacity concerns in the modern grid [Online].
Critics question the overall efficiencies of creating Available:
large quantities of hydrogen to power fuel cells to create D. Rastler, “New demand for energy storage,” Elect. Per-
electricity. Large-scale adoption of hydrogen would require spect., vol. 33, no. 5, pp. 30–47, Sept./Oct. 2008.
a significant paradigm shift in the overall energy delivery (2008, Nov.). Utility scale energy storage grinds into
strategy in major world markets. Today, changes of this gear. Climate Change Bus. J. [Online]. Available: www.
magnitude do not appear possible in any of the world’s
major utility markets. B. Lee and D. Gushee. (2008, June). Massive electric-
ity storage. AICHe White Paper [Online]. Available: www.
Education about the value of energy storage in operating C. Vartanian, “The coming convergence, ren ew-
electric power grids has been lacking for a long time. During ables, smart grid and storage,” IEEE Energy 2030, Nov.
the 2003 conference aimed at establishing a vision for the 2008.
future smart electric grid, storage was identified as playing Parliamentary Office of Science and Technology.
a vital role in managing new and more complex networks. (2008, Apr.). Electricity storage [Online]. no. 306. Avail-
Since that time, more attention has been given to the benefits able:
storage can provide. The infrastructure stimulus bill passed pubs2008.cfm
by the U.S. Congress provided increased funding for storage J. McDowall. (2008). Understanding lithium-ion tech-
in the electric grid and significant monies to advance storage nology, BATTCON 2008 [Online]. Available: http://www.
devices for PHEVs. battcon,com/Archive Papers.htm#McDowall2008
As countries around the world continue to increase
their renewable energy portfolio—namely, wind power—
the par ticipation of storage in the success formula Biography
needs attention. The November/December 2007 “wind Bradford Roberts is the power quality systems director for
integration” issue of IEEE Power & Energy Magazine S&C Electric Company and chair of the Electricity Storage
contained only very minor references to storage’s ability Association. p&e

july/august 2009 IEEE power & energy magazine 41