It’s time to breathe new life into the grid by transforming it into a clean, flexible, and unbreakable energy network. Electricity is fundamental – it is the fastest growing form of end-user energy consumption, it powers nearly 40% of everything we do,1 and fuels a $74 trillion global economy.2
But when, where, and how people consume electricity is changing. The rise of renewables and distributed generation are creating new challenges and opportunities for the electric power system.
In order to realize the full potential of the electric power system, we need to build a new energy network: transform the grid with energy storage, accelerate renewables, and electrify everything.
Accelerate the shift to wind and solar to improve the electricity generation mix. Multiply the benefits with a flexible network.
Unlock the grid of the future with energy storage to create a bi-directional, responsive energy network.
Power everything with electricity to reach carbon zero. Heat, transportation, appliances… everything.
Nearly every vital network we rely on uses storage to address mismatches between supply and demand, but the electric power sector largely lacks this capability.
IHS Markit studied four of society’s critical networks — data, travel, perishable goods and natural gas — and found each had storage amounting to at least four days’ worth of demand, and even years’ worth for data networks.
By contrast, the electricity grid currently has storage equal to around 20 minutes worth of demand. With rising adoption and declining costs for energy storage, that is starting to change. Download the white paper to learn more.
Download the IHS Markit white paper, “Reaching Peak Performance: What the electric power sector can learn from society's other vital networks."Download Now
In the perishable goods network, fluctuations in the supply/demand relationship stem primarily from the supply side, due to the seasonality of growing food. Cold storage, in the form of mechanical refrigeration, extends the shelf life of food and enables it to be stored and transported across a large network. Storage is essential in ensuring food availability across a complex global network.
Data storage on servers is the backbone of data networks and enables cloud computing. Data caches are used for localized storage to increase the speed and efficiency of the data network. Data storage centers are located both in remote locations for mass central storage, and near end users to reduce the need for constant data exchange across the larger network. The rapid decline in solid-state drive (SSD) storage and wireless communications costs has enabled an entire generation of mobile devices that still connect to the network.
Unlike electricity, that has large daily shifts and some seasonal variability, the natural gas network has large seasonal shifts in demand due to heating requirements. Storage assets are critical to managing the delta between relatively stable natural gas production and fluctuating demand. This network has large storage fields, distributed storage tanks, liquefied natural gas transporters, and portable tanks to insert gas into multiple locations across the network.
The travel network experiences significant daily fluctuations in demand, with network congestion during rush hour peaks and underutilization of roads and vehicles at less busy times. In this network, the buildings and the seats on vehicles are the storage mechanism. New approaches to increasing utilization in this network include car-sharing and ride-hailing services, such as Zipcar and Uber.
It’s time to breathe new life into the grid by transforming it into a clean, flexible, and unbreakable energy network. Energy storage is the catalyst for this transformation, delivering agile capacity across the network to meet the immediate and future needs of a rapidly changing energy landscape.
The transmission infrastructure in the U.S. operates at around 55% of its designed capacity.3 The U.S. generation fleet operates with a capacity factor of 42%4 and the European generation fleet clocks in at 40%.5 And these numbers are expected to decline in coming years as solar and wind power reduce the operating hours of existing thermal plants.
Let’s rethink how we make new infrastructure investments to ensure that we’re not applying old solutions to new problems, and stop this trend of underutilization.
The ability to store energy anywhere on the grid fundamentally changes the way the system operates. Energy storage decouples supply and demand and introduces an unprecedented level of flexibility and control.
Energy storage is a uniquely flexible asset — it can both absorb and discharge power, respond to signals within milliseconds, and be easily scaled for right-sized deployment.
What does this mean for us? Access to cleaner, cheaper, and more reliable electricity.
The shift to wind, solar, and other renewables for electricity generation is already underway. In fact, renewables made up over half of net capacity additions in 2015 and this trend is expected to accelerate going forward.6
As the grid continues to reduce its carbon output, everything that is powered by the grid becomes cleaner along with it.
This means that, as Vox’s David Roberts put it, “as long as we are reducing carbon on the grid, every single electrical device is getting cleaner throughout its life.”7
Electricity is the fastest growing form of end-user energy consumption and powers nearly 40% of everything we do. In order to realize a clean energy future, we need to electrify everything. Heating, transportation…everything.
Similar to the telecommunications network and the internet, the value of the network will grow exponentially as we scale the number of devices connected to the network. In turn, everything powered by the electric grid will keep getting cleaner as electricity generation continues to shift to renewables. Things that run on combustible fuels will always have the same emissions throughout the life of the asset.
1 “International Energy Outlook 2016,” U.S. Energy Information Administration, May 11, 2016, https://www.eia.gov/outlooks/ieo/pdf/0484(2016).pdf
2 “GDP (current US$),” Worldbank.org, March 15, 217, http://data.worldbank.org/indicator/NY.GDP.MKTP.CD
3 Anders, Scott. “Half-Empty Planes: Utilization Rates for California’s Electric Grid Part II,” The EPIC Energy Blog, July 14, 2015, https://epicenergyblog.com/2015/07/14/half-empty-planes-utilization-rates-for-californias-electric-grid-part-ii/
4 “New Energy Outlook 2015 Americas,” Bloomberg New Energy Finance, 2015.
5 “New Energy Outlook 2015 Europe,” Bloomberg New Energy Finance, 2015.
6 Vaughan, Adam. “Renewables made up half of net electricity capacity added last year,” The Guardian, October 25, 2016, https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2016/oct/25/renewables-made-up-half-of-net-electricity-capacity-added-last-year
7 Roberts, David. “The key to tackling climate change: electrify everything,” Vox.com, September 19, 2016, http://www.vox.com/2016/9/19/12938086/electrify-everything