Renewable energy is inevitably subject to variations in availability. The wind and sun are unpredictable by nature and, consequently, non-programmable. To harness the power of the winds, the Greek god Aeolus decided to lock them up in an amphora. Helios, instead, controlled the light and darkness by pulling the sun with his winged chariot.
Putting the suggestions of mythology aside, technological breakthroughs now make it possible to transform what was only possible for gods in the ancient world into reality: the storage of wind and solar energy to make them available 24 hours a day. All thanks to energy storage systems.
Storage systems are fundamental to the future of renewable energy. They store electricity and make it available when there is greater need, acting as a balance between supply and demand and helping stabilize the grid. Batteries – connected in series – are now some of the most common storage systems (with the exception of pumped-storage hydroelectric systems) and are going through a real technological revolution. Year after year, new materials and cutting-edge technological solutions are introduced, providing greater efficiency, lower costs and a design-to-recycle approach, to obtain a more sustainable product.
Development projections for storage are promising. According to a 2017 IRENA Report, titled Electricity Storage and Renewables, a potential doubling of the growth of renewables – between 2017 and 2030 – will have to correspond to a tripling of the stock of electrical energy available in storage systems: from 2017’s 4.67 terawatt hours to a range between 11.89 and 15.72 TWh in 2030.