Massive growth in energy storage anticipated, conference hears



Energy storage is globally considered to be the new wave in the energy sector following on from and supporting recent developments in renewable energy sources such as wind and solar. It is said that, between 2016 and 2024, about $44-billion will be invested in the construction of new energy storage facilities, with an estimated increase from 162 GWh in 2017 to between 5821 and 8426 GWh by 2030.

To support this technological development, EE Publishers hosted the SA Energy Storage 2017 Conference and Exhibition at Emperors Palace over two days in November 2017. This focused conference and exhibition covered policy, regulatory, economic, research, technology, business and application issues associated with energy storage, both as a disrupting and an enabling technology. The conference included a third day of site visits.

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As the industry seeks to find solutions to reducing harmful emissions from traditional coal-fired power stations, more solar- and wind-powered electricity-generating facilities have been constructed. Electricity from these facilities fluctuates according to prevailing weather conditions and so a solution to smoothing out supply – as well as extending supply to times when the wind does not blow and the sun does not shine – has resulted in the development of energy storage technologies.

Energy storage is not a new development. The idea of storing energy for use when it is needed at some future time has existed for many years, and has been implemented in various ways. The first true battery was invented in 1800 by Alessandro Volta, although experiments began at least 50 years before that.  In South Africa, utility-scale, pumped water storage has been in use since 1981 when Eskom’s 1000 MW Drakensberg Pumped Water Storage Scheme started operating.

Exhibition

Fig. 1: A view of the exhibition hall.

The event included an exhibition area in which 29 local and international organisations erected stands to display their products and at which networking took place. Prizes were awarded for the best stands. Enel won the award for best large stand, while the Best Small Stand award went to Sinetech.

Conference

Fig. 2: The conference auditorium filled with delegates.

Speakers at the conference discussed topics covering utility scale energy storage, as well as storage for industrial, commercial, domestic and mobility applications. Various technologies, including battery, molten salt, hydrogen, small nuclear, pumped water and mechanical storage systems were discussed. The use of different technologies for the generation of electricity, such as fuel-cells, gas and waste to complement existing infrastructure, and the role of smart-, mini- and micro-grids was also covered. The benefits of storage for the purpose of standby power, power quality, voltage and frequency regulation was also discussed.

Workshops

Well-attended workshops discussed financial, procurement, legal, regulatory, and standards took place concurrently with part of the main plenary sessions on both days.

Site visits

The conference included, on the third day, visits to a number of energy storage sites.

One of these site visits was to Eskom’s newly constructed Ingula Pumped Water Storage facility in the Drakensberg Mountains; while the other was to Eskom’s battery test and research facility in Germiston, followed by a tour of ABB’s micro-grid and battery storage system at its head office in Longmeadow; and to the CSIR’s Energy Centre in Pretoria.

Ingula tour

This was a full-day site visit to Eskom’s newly commissioned 1333 MW (4 x 333 MW) Ingula Pumped Storage Scheme in the escarpment of the Drakensberg. The Ingula Pumped Storage Scheme consists of an upper and a lower dam, each capable of holding 22-million m3 of water.

Fig. 3: Ingula pumped water energy storage scheme.

The dams, 4,6 km apart, are connected by underground waterways passes through a subterranean powerhouse with four 333 MW generators. During times of peak demand, water is released from the upper dam, passing through the pump/turbines, into the lower dam. During low energy demand, the pump/turbines are used to pump the water from the lower dam, back to the upper dam.

Local tour

Eskom’s Research, Test and Development (RT&D) facility in Rosherville, Germiston: Eskom RT&D develops new technologies through a robust pilot and demonstration project portfolio.

Fig. 4: Peter Langley explained the workings of Eskom’s battery storage test facility.

ABB, Longmeadow: The ABB micro-grid installation consists of a 750 kW rooftop solar PV system with diesel generators and battery storage.

Fig. 5: ABB’s rooftop PV panels – part of the company’s micro-grid solution.

CSIR, Pretoria: The CSIR Energy Centre provides thought leadership in energy research to inform business decisions, investments into new technologies, and policymaking. The five research priorities of the centre are energy efficiency and demand forecasting; renewable energy; energy storage and system technologies; energy-system planning and operation and energy markets and policy.

Fig. 6: CSIR’s dual axis PV system was demonstrated to the delegates.

Experts at all of these site visits provided full and in-depth explanations of the equipment being used, as well as the purpose and use of the installation.

Conclusions

Delegates learned, inter alia, that energy storage is a reality and that it will grow dramatically in the short to medium term. According to Bloomberg, 45 GW/81 GWh of distributed or advanced stationary energy storage will be installed by 2024 (excluding pumped hydro and electric vehicles). At the same time, IRENA is reporting that non-pumped hydro generated electricity storage will grow from an estimated 162 GWh in 2017 to between 5821 and 8426 GWh by 2030, although currently, the most dominant technology in use is still pumped-water storage. The top five markets are said to be Japan, India, the United States, China, and Europe. These countries are likely to represent about 71% of the global total for installed storage by 2024.

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