Energy storage systems based on Lithium batteries will be another very important source of demand for Lithium. They will allow the integration of different sources of energy into the smart grid systems: like solar, wind and existing generation plants. With more and more EVs on the streets we can start to talk about Car to Grid technology as well, when smart grid can talk to the EVs and use the energy from the EV battery during peak hours when electric cars are parked at the office and charge the EV from Energy Storage facility at night. Energy storage can be charge during the day using solar and wind power among other sources of energy in this scheme.
U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu last week announced the finalising of a USD $17.1 million loan guarantee to support the construction of a 20 megawatt (MW) energy storage system using advanced lithium-ion batteries.
Located in Johnson City, New York, the AES project will improve stability for the associated mains power grid and reduce carbon emissions by allowing for more renewable energy sources like wind and solar power.
"Bringing more efficiency and reliability to the grid will help cut costs for consumers and power a cleaner energy future", said Secretary Chu.
Grid frequency regulation is needed to balance power generation and consumption and is usually maintained by burning additional fossil fuels such as coal at power plants. Power plants become very inefficient when power output rapidly ramps in response to short-term variation in power demand. Up to 7% of the USA's electricity generating capacity is set aside to provide grid stability.
The AES project instead uses battery technology and new software that will provide the same regulation at a lower price.
The AES project will include advanced lithium-ion battery cells from A123 Systems, Inc. The company says its Smart Grid Stabilization System (SGSS) can respond in milliseconds compared to power plants which can take minutes to respond to a call to vary their power output. The system frees up plant capacity to enable a power company to focus on the primary function of baseload electricity generation.
A123 Systems says independent third party studies have found high-efficiency energy storage systems, such as the SGSS, for frequency regulation can reduce the associated emissions of carbon dioxide, sulphur dioxide and nitrous oxide by as much as 80% over traditional power plant ancillary services.