With aging infrastructure and renewable energy generation on the rise, there has never been a more urgent need for a modern electricity grid. Many envision this modernized smart grid based on its capacity to integrate renewable energy sources, being virtually carbon neutral, and featuring improved voltage control, demand response and supply flexibility. Currently, the leading technology for achieving these modifications rests in grid electricity energy storage (EES). The technology exists today, however the need now is to provide tactical solutions, not technologies.
Figure 1. Standing at the foot of the immense Skógafoss in southeast Iceland, a country which produces 100 percent of its electricity from renewable resources comprised of 73 percent hydropower inputs and 27 percent geothermal energy.
Energy storage is not a new concept. Since the invention of the first electrochemical battery in 1800 by Alessandro Volta, energy storage has become common for many household and industrial applications. It has also been an integral component of electricity generation, transmission and distribution systems for well over a century. Traditionally, the capacity for energy storage has been met by the physical storage of energy reserves in fossil fuels and harnessed by power plants, as well as through large-scale pumped hydro storage plants. The power landscape has changed dramatically in recent years, and the proliferation of modern renewable energy (RE) sources as a means to meet today’s energy and environmental demands have given rise to a surprising number of unforeseen obstacles. At the beginning of its development, RE generation technology focused more on harnessing the maximum power from renewable resources, ignoring the need for power system reliability and stability. Output fluctuations from renewable energy sources otherwise known as intermittencies, which are common with wind and solar photovoltaic generation, lead to variability and uncertainty in electricity production to the grid. Such fundamental changes in the design and controllability of the grid call for smarter, more efficient power networks and energy storage solutions.
New research coming out of the University of Iceland introduces the novel idea of adding EES technologies such as Li-ion batteries across the country's grid to store it's 100 percent renewably sourced electricity, effectively creating the world's first renewable "green battery." The project has been dubbed IceOpt: Storing The Future. For years, Iceland has been the world standard in renewable generation, with onlookers borrowing their techniques to improve domestic energy portfolios in the shift towards a greater renewable revolution. By redesigning Iceland's electric grid, which is already one of the most modern and secure on the planet, the researchers hope to reach grid optimization through increased energy efficiency, all while providing a formula for success for other countries, states and provinces to follow in their renewable generation.
Research indicates high-capacity (EES) has the potential to be economically beneficial as well as carbon neutral, all while improving power control and quality, dampening load variation, and smoothing out natural fluctuations in renewable energy (RE) sources. In the reports from University of Iceland, various leading-edge EES technologies are presented and tested at different locations across the Icelandic grid using modeling software to predict which solutions are best. The role of EES integration into Iceland’s electricity grid will be explored with primary focus on improving energy efficiency, transmission control, and maintaining infrastructure. Modeling EES configurations and achieving grid optimization will be done using GridCommandTM software, which can digitally analyze distributed energy resources, maximize improvements in voltage control, power quality, dampening load variation and predict future scenarios with electric vehicles (EVs) interactions using grid energy storage. Landsvirkjun has installed a very workable transmission network across the country; therefore the goal here is assessing how best to implement EES devices for storing Iceland’s annual energy surplus, as well as helping establish microgrids for better voltage control and distribution on the local scale.
Figure 2. Will electrical energy storage (EES) in Iceland be economical? And how much will it affect the overall power quality, voltage control, and generation, transmission and distribution efficiency?
"We're re-envisioning global energy markets with this project"
Once stored, you can then imagine what 100 percent renewably sourced energy can achieve on the global energy market: batteries, compressed air energy storage (CAES), and other high tech EES devices can be shipped around the world (think Middle East and its oil trade, but replace barrels of oil with 100 percent green batteries!), attached to electric grids, power electric vehicles, and help other countries meet their renewable obligations. "We're re-envisioning global energy markets with this project", boasts one of the lead researchers of IceOpt. "The technology exists today, however the need now is to provide tactical solutions. That's where we come in."
"I'm leading a small research team to the heart of the elusive Smart Grid challenge. There's currently a lot of hype surrounding Smart Grids, it's our intention to demystify the whole thing using this new Grid Command software." Promises to increase the compatibility between the electric grid and electric vehicles are integral to this study as well, as the team will model the possibility of integrating electric cars in an effort to create the world's first grid-to-vehicle (G2V) and vehicle-to-grid (V2G) system. The ability to claim 100 percent renewable energy powering its electric fleet would also be unmatched by any country in the world to date.
Figure 3. IceOpt looks to test the complementarity between grid energy storage and electric vehicles.
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