The shift towards an energy matrix based on renewable sources is a global priority to combat climate change. However, one of the main limitations of renewable energy is its intermittency. Hydroelectric power plants rely on precipitation and snowmelt, just as the sun doesn’t always shine, the wind doesn’t always blow, etc. Energy storage therefore presents itself as the outstanding challenge for renewables.
Energy storage involves capturing the energy produced at one point in time and storing it for later use. An effective storage system could allow us to have renewable energy available on demand, regardless of weather conditions or time of day, improving the reliability and stability of the electricity grid. A variety of energy storage technologies exist, each with its own advantages and limitations. Lithium-ion batteries, for example, are the most popular choice for short-term energy storage due to their high efficiency and energy density. However, their limited lifetime and environmental impact are aspects that need to be improved.
Other storage technologies include pumped hydro systems, flow batteries, thermal storage and hydrogen energy storage, among others. Each technology has its own set of ideal applications and infrastructure requirements. As the need for energy storage grows, so do efforts to develop more efficient, durable and cost-effective storage technologies. However, challenges remain. Deployment costs remain high for many technologies, and issues related to regulation and grid integration have yet to be resolved.
Despite these challenges, the future of energy storage is promising. Investments in research and development are driving rapid advances, and economies of scale are expected to drive down costs in the coming years. Energy storage represents one of the most important challenges in our transition to a renewable energy future. However, this challenge also represents an opportunity to innovate and develop solutions that allow us to realise the full potential of renewable energy. As we move towards this future, energy storage will continue to be a vital field of research and a key pillar in our fight against climate change.