Electricity storage: Location, location, location … and cost
Electricity storage can be deployed throughout an electric power system—functioning as generation, transmission, distribution, or end-use assets—an advantage when it comes to providing local solutions to a variety of issues. Sometimes placing the right storage technology at a key location can alleviate a supply shortage situation, relieve congestion, defer transmission additions or substation upgrades, or postpone the need for new capacity. The examples above and below illustrate the wide range of storage applications, though neither is intended to provide a comprehensive listing of storage technologies.
Some storage technologies are mature and fully commercial, such as pumped hydro and thermal storage. Others are still evolving in terms of technology and their economic and operational roles in the power grid, such as battery storage or flywheels. The costs can be significant when it comes to energy storage, particularly with emerging technologies. On the other hand, electricity storage technologies offer price arbitrage opportunities and fast-response services that conventional technologies cannot match. The future application of storage technologies will depend on how rapidly the technologies improve and costs drop, the implementation of new pricing and valuation schemes for the services storage can provide, and the cost and efficiency of alternatives.