Researchers evaluate the role and value of long-term energy storage technologies in securing carbon-free power grids.
“The overall question for me is how to decarbonize society in the most affordable way,” said Nestor Sepulveda SM ’16, PhD ’20.As a postdoc MIT A researcher at the MIT Energy Initiative (MITEI), he has worked with the team over the years to explore the combination of energy sources that best achieves this goal. In the group’s first study, “we need to develop an energy storage technology that can be deployed in a much longer and more cost-effective way than lithium-ion batteries,” said Dharik Mallapragada, a research scientist at MITEI.
In a new treatise published in Nature energy, Sepulveda, Mallapragada, and colleagues at MIT Princeton University It provides a comprehensive cost and performance assessment of the role of long-term energy storage (LDES) technology in the transformation of energy systems. LDES is a term that covers a variety of emerging technology classes, responding to the fluctuating output of renewable energy, emitting electrons over days to weeks, and deploying solar and wind power on a large scale. It provides resiliency to the ready power grid.
“If you want to rely overwhelmingly on wind and solar power for electricity, that is, if you have more and more affordable ways to reduce carbon emissions, you need to deal with those intermittentness,” the machine said. Jesse Jenkins SM ’14, PhD ’18, assistant professor of the. Former researcher at MITEI, Center for Aerospace Engineering and Andrewer Energy and Environment, Princeton University.
In their paper, researchers actually combined LDES with renewable energy sources and short-term energy storage options such as lithium-ion batteries to make a large-scale, cost-effective transition to a decarbonized grid. We analyzed whether we could supply power. They also investigated whether LDES could eliminate the need for available on-demand or robust low-carbon energy sources such as nuclear and natural gas with carbon recovery and sequestration. ..
“The message here is that innovative, low-cost LDES technology can have a significant impact, making deeply decarbonized power systems more affordable and reliable. That’s what the lead author, Sepulveda, currently working as a consultant for McKinsey & Company, said. But he says, “It’s better to maintain a solid low-carbon energy source in our options.”
In addition to Jenkins and Mallapragada, co-authors of this article include Aurora Edington SM’19, a research assistant at MITEI at the time of this study and now a consultant at Cadmus Group. Richard K. Lester, Professor of Japan Steel Industry, Vice President of MIT, Former Dean of the Faculty of Nuclear Science and Engineering.
“As the world begins to seriously focus on how to reach its deep decarbonization goals in the coming decades, insights from these system-level studies are essential,” says Leicester. “Researchers, innovators, investors and policy makers will all benefit from their knowledge of the cost and technical performance goals proposed by this work.”
Performance and cost
The team set out to assess the impact of LDES solutions on real-world virtual electrical systems, where technology is scrutinized not only by its stand-alone attributes, but also by its relative value when compared to other energy sources. did.
“We need to decarbonize society at an affordable cost. Given that other technologies are competing in this area, LDES can increase the chances of success and reduce the cost of the entire system. I wanted to know if that was the case, “says Sepulveda.
To pursue this goal, the team deployed the power system capacity expansion model GenX, previously developed by Jenkins and Sepulveda during his time at MIT. This simulation tool leverages LDES technology, including technologies currently under development and potentially developed, for a variety of future low-carbon grid scenarios characterized by renewable energy cost and performance attributes. We were able to assess the potential impact of this on the system. Enterprise power generation types and alternative electricity demand forecasts. The study says Jenkins, “The first widespread use of this type of experimental method to apply large-scale parametric uncertainty and long-term system-level analysis to assess and identify cost and performance goals for new long-term energy storage technologies. “was.
For their research, researchers have investigated a variety of long-term technologies, backed by the US Department of Energy’s Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E) program, to address the plausible costs of future LDES systems. You have defined performance attributes. Five important parameters covering a range of mechanical, chemical, electrochemical, and thermal approaches. These include, among other things, pumped hydraulic storage, vanadium redox flow batteries, aqueous sulfur flow batteries, and refractory brick resistance heating heat storage.
“Consider a bathtub whose energy storage capacity parameters are similar to the volume of the bathtub,” explains Jenkins. Continuing the analogy, another important parameter, the charging power capacity, is the size of the faucet that fills the bathtub and the size of the drain, which is the exhaust power capacity. The most generalized version of LDES technology allows you to individually size each attribute of your system. When LDES technology optimizes energy systems that act as “economically attractive contributors to low-cost, carbon-free grids,” researchers find that the most important parameter is the cost of energy storage capacity. I found that.
“We evaluated nearly 18,000 distinctive cases to comprehensively assess the design of LDES technology and its economic value for decarbonized grids,” explains Edington. LDES design parameters and selection of competing companies’ low-carbon power resources. “
Some of the key points from a rigorous analysis of researchers:
- LDES technology costs more than 10% of deeply decarbonized power systems when the cost of stored energy capacity (the cost of increasing the size of the bathtub) is below the $ 20 threshold per kilowatt hour. It can be reduced. If the energy capacity cost of future technology is reduced to $ 1 / kWh, this value can increase to 40% and up to 50% with the optimal combination of space-modeled parameters. For comparison, the cost of the battery’s current storage energy capacity is about $ 200 / kWh.
- Given today’s common electricity demand patterns, the energy capacity cost of LDES must be less than $ 10 / kWh to replace nuclear power. For LDES to completely replace the power options of all enterprises, the cost must be less than $ 1 / kWh.
- In scenarios where large-scale electrification of transportation and other end-uses is done to achieve the deep decarbonization goals of the economy as a whole, under a future combination of cost and efficiency performance ranges of known LDES technology. Replacing corporate power generation becomes more difficult at northern latitudes. This is mainly due to the increase in peak electricity demand due to heating demand in cold climates.
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“People using LDES can see how their technology fits into future power configurations and ask,” Is it economically meaningful from a system perspective? ” “Mallapragada says. “And it’s a call for action in policy and investment in innovation, because it shows where the technology gap lies and where the greatest value of research breakthroughs in LDES technology development lies. . “
Not all LDES technologies can meet this design space standard and are the only way to quickly expand wind and solar in the short term or enable a complete transition to a zero carbon economy by 2050. You can’t even rely on LDES as.
“We show how promising LDES technology is,” says Sepulveda. “But it also shows that these technologies are not one solution, and that they are even better at complementing corporate resources.”
Jenkins instantly spies on LDES niche market opportunities, such as where wind and solar are heavily deployed and transmission restrictions to export that power. In such locations, when power transmission reaches its limit, storage can fill up and later export power while maximizing the capacity of the power line. However, LDES technology needs to be ready to make a significant impact by the late 2030s and 2040s, by which time the economy must be completely separated from natural gas dependence for successful decarbonization. He believes there may be.
“In the last decade, we need to develop and deploy LDES and improve other low-carbon technologies, which can offer policy makers and power system operators a true alternative,” he said. say.
In light of this urgent need, Princeton’s Jenkins and MIT’s Malapragada are currently working on the evaluation and advancement of technologies with the greatest potential in the storage and energy sector to accelerate the goal of zero carbon. .. With the help of ARPA-E and MITEI, they are turning the state-of-the-art GenX power system planning model into an open source tool for the public. Sepulveda says that their research and modeling approach can show developers and policy makers what designs are most influential.
See: Design Space for Long-Term Energy Storage in Decarbonized Power Systems, Nestor A. Sepulveda, Jesse D. Jenkins, Aurora Edington, Dharik S. Mallapragada, Richard K. Lester, March 29, 2021 Nature energy..
DOI: 10.1038 / s41560-021-00796-8
This research was supported by a grant from the National Science Foundation Network and by MITEI’s Center for Low Carbon Energy for Power Systems.
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