The Importance of Energy Storage Systems for Sustainable Operations

Energy Storage locker with power lines and wind farms in the background

Have you ever wondered how much the electricity you use costs? Sure we try to conserve energy, turn off lights, make sure our
remote sites aren’t running when idle, but the actual economics behind our energy use is oft-forgotten.

Though the world is still heavily reliant on energy derived from fossil fuels, recent trends in renewable energy have made the traditionally cost-prohibitive energy sources much more accessible.

Before diving into a cost breakdown for renewable energy, let’s first talk about how organizations can begin to calculate and monitor their energy costs.


What is Energy Storage?

Energy storage is as straightforward as it gets – the capability to store energy for later use. This energy storage helps reduce reliance on backup power supplies like generators that rely on fuel to provide energy. Energy storage systems come in all shapes and sizes, providing efficient and sustainable backup power for houses, remote sites, data centers, industrial facilities, and others.

Energy storage can also offset the usage of these generators by using them to charge and only turn them back on when the State of Charge (SoC) reaches low enough levels. However, renewable energy sources like solar and wind have been introduced recently and changed this model. Now, they can supply even more efficient charging and use of renewable energy storage solutions by removing the need for fossil fuels. 

So now that we’ve established what energy storage is, let’s dive into the available energy storage solutions and how they work.

What are the types of energy storage systems available?

There are numerous methods and sources for energy storage, but the most popular ones include batteries, hydroelectric, compressed air, pumped storage, Hydrogen, and Methane. For this piece, we will be focusing on backup batteries, compressed air, and hydroelectric energy storage.

Pumped Hydroelectric Storage

How pumped storage hydropower works animated diagram
Source: UCUSA.org

Pumped hydroelectric storage relies on the kinetic energy generated by the falling movement of water pumped through a turbine or pump. These systems rely on an upper and lower reservoir to manage the flow of water, where water is released from the upper reservoir through the turbine to generate electricity. 

Dams, the primary source of hydroelectric energy, are a prime example of the application of this stored energy, releasing water from their reservoir to provide power when demand peaks.

Compressed Air Energy Storage (CAES)

Source: EnergyStorage.org.ua

Compressed Air Energy Storage (CAES) operates very similarly to hydroelectric storage. Air in the surrounding area, or other compressed gasses, is trapped, pressurized, and stored underground in a natural cave or artificial container with a heat source. When energy is needed, the heat source is activated, pushing the air into an expansion turbine driving a generator, which produces electricity.

Battery Storage

Animated diagram how a Lithium Ion Battery Works
Source: SciTechDaily

Battery energy storage systems are among the most widespread and accepted solutions for residential, commercial, and industrial applications. They power everything from our phones to cars, houses, and even retail and industrial facilities. Batteries can store electricity by converting it into stored chemical energy, which is converted back to electricity as needed.

Batteries come in a variety of orientations, including lead-acid, metal-air, lithium-ion (Li-Ion), and sodium-sulfur. Li-Ion batteries are leading the pack in terms of growth, as they offer high efficiency, energy density, and overall power output. Uninterruptible Power Supplies (UPS) often use batteries to provide near-instantaneous energy supply in the case of outages.

So now that we’ve gone over some of the most popular energy storage systems and how they are applied to everyday use cases, we should discuss why energy storage is so important.

Why should you care about storing energy?

Energy storage carries importance for such a wide range of applications, but why should you pay attention to developments in energy storage now? Well, for one thing, the market is booming

As more and more sectors adopt these solutions seeking efficient energy alternatives, the market is proliferating. From 2020 to 2021, the energy storage market has doubled in sizeand global storage capacity is expected to increase by 56% in the next five years. In terms of total energy supply, 2021 marked the first time over 10 Gigawatts (GW) of energy storage was installed in a single year. However, this pales to the near 150 GW expected by just 2025. 

All of this energy storage capacity will have wide-reaching effects in terms of energy efficiency and use, especially for site operators, service providers, and others. These are just some of the reasons implementing an energy storage solution will improve these metrics:

  • Boost the quality and reliability of energy delivery by providing temporary continuity during outages. 
  • Create flexibility for the electric grid as outages become increasingly costly by preventing extended downtime and providing backup power when needed 
  • SAVE MONEY! It can significantly lower energy costs by reducing fossil fuel use and lost revenue from outages.
  • Integrate a variety of energy sources, including renewables, to further save on energy costs.
  • Inject and extract energy according to changes in load in real-time.
  • Reduce environmental impact through improved energy efficiency, reduced carbon emissions, and a new opportunity for renewables.

What are the challenges to implementing Energy storage?

While the opportunities remain numerous for energy storage to transform your operations, some obstacles to implementation still exist. One of the most prevalent is the dissonance between steadily dropping prices and a lasting perception of high cost. 

In addition, especially in the case of backup batteries, there is a diverse selection to choose from, and frequently each supplier even has its proprietary technology. These differing policies and processes tie into the next challenge – severely lagging regulatory guidelines. This causes technology advances in the field to outstrip the controls to ensure they are safe, secure, and effective.

Another issue is energy storage maintenance. Depending on the energy storage technology, some solutions require a great deal more upkeep and regular maintenance to remain effective solutions. This can drive up overall costs and create additional expenditures where there weren’t any previously.

Lastly, how do we define energy storage? What energy assets are included, and how should we define their operations and use? This lack of clear purpose has made adopting these technologies and solutions much slower, with significant stakeholders left with serious questions about energy storage’s current and future intentions. 

Energy storage and sustainable operations - two peas in a pod

Besides providing immediate backup power and energy flexibility for your sites and facilities, energy storage has a marked effect on carbon emissions. For the telecom sector, over 90% of network costs are spent on energy annually, which makes up over 3% of the world’s total energy use. 

Utilizing energy storage solutions can drastically reduce these costs. Depending on the type of energy storage used, carbon emissions can be significantly curtailed by moving away from relying on fuel-powered generators and other fuel-reliant energy sources.

A recent study found that implementing certain energy storage technologies can provide up to a 90% reduction in energy-related carbon emissions on a state-wide level. Implementing these solutions on a site-by-site basis can have the exact same effect.

However, maximizing these reductions and your energy efficiency performance will take more than just energy storage solutions to achieve these goals. Remote monitoring and management (RMM) software can help provide insights into the performance and usage of your energy storage solutions onsite.

Many times their usage as backup energy sources is poorly implemented. In specific locations with unstable grid availability, these batteries can be relied upon far more than intended or sometimes not function at all when they should.

RMM solutions can provide the visibility you need and insights into these energy assets’ performance to optimize your efficiency and their use. They also provide intelligent management capabilities for energy storage systems without needing to be on site.

Now that we’ve established the importance, challenges, and sustainable nature of energy storage, let’s dive into where it is being used today.

Where is energy storage being used?

Energy storage solutions are being used in a variety of industrial, residential, and commercial applications. They are also highly adaptable to practically any energy source, both fossil fuels and renewables. This adaptability provides flexibility to real-world uses using different energy sources to give the batteries charge, all while potentially reducing carbon emissions

There are many current applications for these energy storage solutions, but we will touch only on some primary examples.

Information and Communication Technology (ICT) Sectors

LCOE is a calculation used to assess the relative cost of energy-generating technologies. This metric determines the lifetime costs for energy supply according to usage scale, location, and type of energy. That includes the cost per unit of energy generated and the installation costs involved in a similar ratio.

Energy Distribution Networks

LCOE is a calculation used to assess the relative cost of energy-generating technologies. This metric determines the lifetime costs for energy supply according to usage scale, location, and type of energy. That includes the cost per unit of energy generated and the installation costs involved in a similar ratio.

Electric Vehicles (EVs)

LCOE is a calculation used to assess the relative cost of energy-generating technologies. This metric determines the lifetime costs for energy supply according to usage scale, location, and type of energy. That includes the cost per unit of energy generated and the installation costs involved in a similar ratio.

Galooli is ready to supercharge your energy storage

Galooli turns your backup energy storage solutions like batteries into smart, insight–producing assets that can optimize your efficiency, energy use, and asset durability. Our platform provides real-time visibility of these energy assets’ and others’ performance and live alerts to any errant issues. We also provide regular reports tracking these assets over time and highlighting any inconsistencies we find.

Galooli Battery Monitoring and Management Interface

Especially in the case of backup batteries, theft can be a frequent issue for remote site operators. Our solution includes sensors to detect the slightest vibration to the batteries’ housing. With Galooli’s live GPS overlay, our RMM solution can track any battery movements until the relevant authorities can recover it.

Using our gathered insights on your batteries’ performance, we can provide live voltage recommendations for each battery to maximize its durability, warranty, and efficiency. If your site relies on Li-Ion batteries, we can also provide an in-depth look at their performance, including SoC, SoH, voltage, operating time, temperature, and more. 

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