Battery energy storage is rapidly securing a central place in the future of the power grid. The incumbent grid—a system built to provide a one-way flow of power from centralized, predominately fossil-fueled power stations to distant customers—is giving way to a rapidly emerging new system.
Scalable and increasingly cost-competitive renewable energy resources such as solar PV, large-scale wind farms, distributed energy resources, accelerating electric vehicle adoption, and a variety of demand-side capabilitiesi are redefining today’s power grid. Multiple trends define the grid’s ongoing evolution:
- Emissions Reduction: A shift toward more low- and no-carbon electricity sources as renewable energy becomes more affordable and both large system and smaller distributed energy resources become a greater part of today’s energy mix.
- Customer Choice: Now more than ever, empowered customers have more clean energy and reliability choices, such as solar energy, energy efficiency, electric vehicles, and energy storage. Customers can increasingly adopt new technologies to manage their energy use.
- Smart, Advanced Grid: As more energy, such as customer-sited solar energy, is added to the system, the standard of power flow from central electricity generation to the customer is changing. As customers add more renewable generation at their facilities and homes, more advanced communications, control, and devices enable these resources with the appropriate two-way flow of information, services, and value.
This ever-evolving system faces many priorities, including: maintaining grid reliability, strengthening grid resilience, and grid modernization to address the aging of legacy infrastructure—all in the context of a sometimes turbulent regulatory landscape, rate structure reforms, and the rapid pace of technological innovation.
Amidst such a backdrop, energy storage technologiesii have shown great promise as the “Swiss army knife” of the power grid, capable of doing many things for many stakeholders. Battery systems in particular are quickly gaining a larger foothold as a flexible, nimble resource that can benefit utilities, customers, and the entire power grid.