- By 2040, deployments of long-duration energy storage systems should be scaled up approximately 400 times present day levels to build a worldwide cost-optimal net-zero energy system, according to a report released today by the Long Duration Energy Storage (LDES) Council.
- In order to make LDES economically viable, the report finds that LDES costs must decrease by 60%. That would require a total investment of between $1.5 trillion and $3 trillion around the world between 2022 and 2040, which the report says is equivalent to the amount spent on transmission and distribution networks every two to four years.
- Widespread deployment of LDES could provide up to 140 TWh of energy capacity by 2040, which would store 10% of all electricity consumed worldwide in a net-zero energy system. That would result in savings of 1.5 to 2.3 gigatonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent, 10 to 15% of today’s power sector emissions, the report said.
Executives from 25 energy and technology companies launched the LDES Council during the United Nations climate change summit in Glasgow, Scotland, earlier this month. The group aims to educate companies, governments and utilities on LDES technologies and encourage policies to support mass deployment of long-duration storage, generally defined as energy storage systems lasting at least four hours. The technology, backers say, will be crucial to a decarbonized grid in order to store and dispatch energy at times when the sun is not shining or the wind is not blowing.
"I think a big reason for us to be part of the [UN] discussion is that this a real, doable thing," said Eric Dresselhuys, CEO of flow battery company ESS Inc. and a founding member of the council. "This isn’t some theory about what could potentially be done from a policy perspective 20 years from now. Long-duration storage is a practical solution that’s available today that can help make the energy transition real."
Other founding members of the council include bp, Siemens Energy, Highview Power, Form Energy and other storage and energy firms.
The Department of Energy announced in July an ambitious program to lower the cost of storage technology by 90% over the next decade, backed by government-funded research and pilot programs. California, as part of its goal to reach 100% renewable energy by 2050, has an interim target of deploying nearly 1 GW of long-duration storage by 2026. Although a number of large storage projects have launched in the past year, the vast majority of storage is based on shorter-duration lithium-ion technology.
The report — prepared by the LDES Council in collaboration with McKinsey & Company — says that LDES deployment could "accelerate rapidly in the next few years," especially as countries continue to expand renewable energy. Once renewables reach a 60 to 70% market share of bulk power systems, the report found, LDES will be catalyzed "as the lowest-cost flexibility solution." However, before that deployment can take place, technology costs need to drop significantly, in line with the cost reductions in other renewable technologies spurred by more research and market knowledge.
That’s a finding widely shared by energy experts; a study published earlier this year in Nature Energy found that the energy capacity cost for an LDES solution would have to drop to $10 per kWh to fully displace nuclear power and would have to get to $1 per kWh to displace natural gas power plants with carbon capture and sequestration.
However, Dresselhuys said the current momentum behind the industry and the clear role for LDES defined in the report means there is reason to think the lofty deployment goals could be achieved.
"This is a huge market and even if the penetration in terms of percentages is relatively low, it’s a really big and meaningful business with a bright future," said Dresselhuys. "I think we're right on the cusp."