Energy storage is the conversion of an energy source that is difficult to store, like electricity, into a form that allows the energy produced now to be utilized in the future.
There are many different forms of energy-storage technologies that can store energy on a variety of timescales, from seconds to months.
While energy storage technologies are still at a relatively early stage of deployment in Canada, many energy storage technologies are either already in operation or in development.
The electricity produced by wind energy and solar energy can be converted and stored through various means:
- Electrochemical means (batteries)
- Mechanical means (pumped hydro, compressed air, flywheels)
- Thermal means (heating a material)
- Chemical means (hydrogen)
- Other means
Many of these technologies can be deployed at multiple scales, but batteries represent the most scalable energy-storage technology. For example, a Tesla power wall in a home has the capacity to store 13.5 kWh of energy, while a Tesla mega pack array can store 1,000,000 kWh of energy for utility-scale applications.
The diversity of energy-storage technologies reflects the diversity of services they can provide. Grid operations can use energy-storage technology to provide such services as reactive power, voltage control and regulation, to enhance the efficiency and reliability of the grid.
It is also important to note that hydroelectric reservoirs represent another form of “energy storage” that can help to facilitate the integration of wind and solar energy into the grid. By storing water behind the dams when wind- and solar-energy facilities are producing electricity, hydroelectric facilities are in essence storing energy that can be deployed when required.
While wind, solar and energy storage are unique and distinct technologies, they are natural allies. Learn more about these technologies that have so much potential to work together: wind, solar, storage, hybrid.