188.8.131.52 Energy storage
Energy storage allows the energy-supply system to operate more or less independently from the energy-demand system. It addresses four major needs: utilizing energy supplies when short-term demand does not exist; responding to short-term fluctuations in demand (stationary or mobile); recovering wasted energy (e.g. braking in mobile applications), and meeting stationary transmission expansion requirements (Testor et al., 2005). Storage is of critical importance if variable low-carbon energy options such as wind and solar are to be better utilized, and if existing thermal or nuclear systems are to be optimized for peak performance in terms of efficiencies and thus emissions. Advanced energy-storage systems include mechanical (flywheels, pneumatic), electrochemical (advanced batteries, reversible fuel cells, hydrogen), purely electric or magnetic (super- and ultra-capacitors, superconducting magnetic storage), pumped-water (hydro) storage, thermal (heat) and compressed air. Adding any of these storage systems necessarily decreases the energy efficiency of the entire system (WEC, 2004d). Overall, cycle efficiencies today range from 60% for pumped hydro to over 90% for flywheels and super-capacitors (Testor et al., 2005). Electric charge carriers such as vanadium redox batteries and capacitors are under evaluation but have low energy density and high cost. Cost and durability (cycle life) of the high-technology systems remains the big challenge, possibly to be met by more advanced materials and fabrication. Energy storage has a key role for small local systems where reliability is an important feature.