Summary: According to an MIT study, an increased use of electricity and energy storage can make a decarbonised electricity system both affordable and reliable. Technologies that are already proven and available for use include Li Ion batteries, but also some thermal storage and pumped hydro.
Why this is important: One of the biggest barriers to the widespread adoption of low carbon electricity generation remains the requirement for economic forms of electricity/energy storage. Li Ion batteries look to be the preferred short and medium storage period technology of choice but coping with infrequent low wind/low solar days will need alternative duration solutions.
The big theme: 100% (or close to) renewable/low carbon electricity generation systems are looking more viable with each passing year. But for this to happen we need a different electricity grid, one with battery storage, for periods of lower renewable production; more interconnectors, bringing electricity from different geographies, better demand management, and a massive investment in making our electricity grids more resilient and flexible.
Summary of a study published in MIT Energy Initiative
In deeply decarbonised energy systems utilising high penetrations of variable renewable energy (VRE), energy storage is needed to keep the lights on and the electricity flowing when the sun isn’t shining and the wind isn’t blowing—when generation from these VRE resources is low or demand is high.