Electrical contractors involved in connecting long-term energy storage to the electric grid might be seeing a bright future as the result of a new council focused on rolling this concept out worldwide.
According to “Net Zero Power: Long Duration Energy Storage for a Renewable Grid,” a report prepared by McKinsey & Co. for the Long Duration Energy Storage (LDES) Council, deployments of LDES systems should be scaled up to approximately 400 times present day levels by 2040 to build a worldwide cost-optimal net-zero energy system.
The LDES Council is a worldwide CEO-led organization focused on accelerating decarbonization of the energy system by driving innovation and deployment of LDES. The council was launched at COP26, the 2021 United Nations Climate Change Conference, hosted in the United Kingdom from late October to mid-November this year. Ultimately, the council’s goal is to cut global emissions while ensuring flexibility in electricity supply, affordability to operators and reliability for users. It will also provide education and advocacy services for the sector to help advance the adoption of LDES and accelerate carbon neutrality. The council will cover a wide range of LDES technologies, and its members span a wide spectrum of innovations in this area.
According to the McKinsey report, to make LDES economically viable, costs must decrease by 60%, which would require a total investment of between $1.5 trillion and $3 trillion worldwide between 2022 and 2040. This is equivalent to the amount spent on transmission and distribution networks every 2–4 years.
The report added that LDES’ widespread deployment could provide up to 140 terawatt-hours of energy capacity by 2040, or storage of 10% of all electricity consumed worldwide in a net-zero energy system, resulting in savings of 1.5–2.3 gigatons of carbon dioxide equivalent. This would represent 10% to 15% of today’s power sector emissions.
The need to begin work is important, according to the report, but there will be challenges.
“The rapid integration of large RE [renewable energy] capacities with their inherent variability creates large challenges for the power system, including potential imbalances in supply and demand, changes in transmission flow patterns, and the potential for greater system instability as the built-in inertia provided by fossil generation is removed. All these call for new solutions to a create flexibility in electricity supply and demand over different durations—intraday, multiday/multiweek, and seasonal,” according to the report.