Skip to content

⚡"Long Duration Energy Storage"

Redefining Energy

Photo by Thomas Kelley / Unsplash

Table of Contents

Hosts: Gerard Reid & Laurent Segalen
Guest: Michael Barnard | Strategic Advisor | Agora Energy Technologies
Category: ⚡Renewable Energy

Podcast’s Essential Bites:

[2:46] “I like to say that grid storage is actually a solved problem. It's just a matter of deployment. We have all the technologies we need and the heavy lifting is going to be done by closed loop pumped hydro storage. We have vastly more capacity globally for that technology than we need. So in the places it won't be allowed to be deployed for a variety of reasons from endangered species, […], oddities of politics, we're still going to have a bunch of other technologies to cover up the gaps.”

[3:42] “I break the grid storage requirement down into a bunch of capabilities. I abstract up from technologies and I say, what are the requirements that the mix of technologies must have? So storage duration, […] energy versus power flexibility that means, as we scale up the battery, do we also scale up the amount of power, the megawatts that it outputs? And lithium ion has a challenge there. We look at the cost per megawatt hour. We look at longevity with maintenance. We look at the cycle count, how many times can you run electricity in and out of it before it starts to fail, we look at how long it takes to build, the viability at multiple scales. Lithium ion totally wins for that. […] Maturity of technology is another one and lithium ion is winning in the battery space in terms of grid deployments […]. Environmental risks, current deployments, […] and then geographical flexibility. […] That's a place where pumped storage hydro […] has challenges. It's all those capabilities and no technology is fit for purpose across all of those. It has to be a mix.

[5:09] “Lithium ion is really good for in-day shifting of afternoon sunlight to the early evening. And it's really good for very rapid response and ciliary services on the grid, such as frequency and voltage management, and immediate peak backup. And it's also pretty good for deploying with wind or solar farms to slightly firm their capability to make them better players on energy markets. […] So lithium ion has a big part to play. But it's not the biggest part. Because once again, it's that energy versus power flexibility, and storage duration problems. […] So with lithium ion batteries, those are linked. You get a lithium ion battery deployment, and you get megawatt hours and megawatts scaling in sync. So that falls apart at a certain point. There's some tricks you can play with it, but it really is challenging. And lithium ion, it's pretty expensive, has one eight year lifespan before it starts to degrade. And so it's not that long, you have to re spend the money every eight years or 10 years with lithium ion storage, which is also problematic.”

[20:57] “The fundamental thing about the vast majority of vanadium batteries is that they stick with the battery paradigm of metals. And metals come with a bunch of constraints. There's some toxicity concerns, which require workplace health […] and safety management. There are concerns about sourcing, supply chains for those types of things. There's concerns about expense, vanadium, and zinc, two of the primary ones, are quite a lot of money per ton for those metals. And so think about scaling up to gigawatt capacity, which we have to think about, it can turn into a fairly expensive battery. Similarly, they tend to use semi precious metals, palladium, platinum as catalysts. And those are measured in the thousands of dollars per kilogram. And so if you have a whole bunch of them in grams per battery, that starts to turn into a major expense as well. This isn't to say that they're not economic, it just says there's challenges to make them economic.”

[25:18] “Germany, for example, gets over 40% of its electricity every year from renewables and has virtually no grid storage. Denmark, Spain, similar types of things, virtually no grid storage. Because what they're doing is they're ramping down the capacity factors of fossil fuel technologies, which is a win, every megawatt hour wind or solar eliminates a megawatt hour of coal or gas. […] We'll have a few gas plants running for part of the time, probably in 2100, in my opinion. […] Most of that storage requirement is later. So redox flow is really an interesting place. When I talk to investors, I say the next decade, we don't need a lot of grid storage, we're not going to build a lot. And redox flow is going to have more time to mature through 2030 and 2035 when the real demand starts firming up. It's a 10 to 15 to 20 year investment and perspective that you have to have in the grid storage space, not a 5 year perspective. Nobody's going to be making […] hundreds of millions of revenue in grid storage in the next five years.”

Rating: ⚡⚡

🎙️ Full Episode: Apple | Spotify
🕰️ 33 min | 🗓️ 10/01/2021
✅ Time saved: 32 min