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AmerCable Incorporated

energy conservation - storage (1) (2) (3) (4) (5)

Electrical energy storage

Schematic Electrical Energy Storage System (UK) 

Energy storage system used for power quality improvement

There is currently considerable interest in electrical energy storage technologies, for a variety of reasons. These include changes in the worldwide utility regulatory environment, an ever increasing reliance on electricity in industry, commerce and the home, the growth of renewable energy sources to meet the growing demand for electricity, and all combined with ever more stringent environmental requirements.

Electrical energy storage enables the decoupling of electricity generation from demand. This is of particular importance to the electricity industry since electricity demand is subject to substantial hourly, daily and seasonal variation. Also, electricity generation, particularly from renewable sources, is also subject to significant variability, both short term (over a few seconds) and longer term (e.g. hourly, daily, seasonal).

Thus, the adoption of electrical energy storage systems on utility networks is likely to result in a significant range of benefits. For example, the widespread adoption of renewable energy sources is, in many instances, constrained by the variable and intermittent nature of their output. Their appropriate integration with storage systems will allow for greater market penetration, with associated primary energy and emissions savings. Also, the environmental impact of electricity generation is heavily influenced by the operation of older and less efficient power plants, particularly for peak lopping purposes. The appropriate integration of storage in the electricity network will reduce the need for such plants, with corresponding primary energy and emissions savings. Finally, the ever-increasing reliance of society on a reliable and 'clean' electricity supply, for an increasing range of duties, is imposing ever more stringent demands on the quality of electricity supply. Storage systems can make a very valuable contribution towards satisfying such customer demands.

Many storage technologies have been considered in the context of utility-scale energy storage systems. These include:

  • Pumped Hydro

  • Batteries (including conventional and advanced technologies)

  • Superconducting magnetic energy storage (SMES)

  • Flywheels

  • Fuel Cell/Electrolyser Systems

  • Conventional Capacitors

  • Supercapacitors/Ultracapacitors

Each technology has its own particular strengths and operational characteristics. For example, pumped hydro is best suited for large-scale bulk electrical energy storage (if suitable geographic topology, geology and environmental conditions exist). Pumped hydro generating stations have been built capable of supplying 1800MW of electricity for four to six hours.

For short-term energy storage, rapid power delivery is often more important than energy capacity and so SMES and flywheel systems have beneficial characteristics for systems used in improving power quality for electricity end-users. An example of a SMES storage system for use in a power quality application is the American Superconductor system (see photo). Battery energy storage tends to be the most flexible storage medium, finding use in both bulk energy storage and short-term power quality applications.

The rapidly accelerating rate of technological development in many of the emerging electrical energy storage systems, together with anticipated unit cost reductions, now makes their practical application look very attractive


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