Energy storage enables us to decouple energy generation from consumption, both geographically and over time.
Energy storage can therefore provide valuable flexibility to the system at various time-scales, from seconds and hours to weeks and months. By providing a range of system and ancillary services, energy storage enables the integration of higher shares of variable renewables.
This flexibility will be vitally important once electricity systems are dominated by variable renewables, meaning that generation cannot be dispatched to match (predicted) demand. But even in the transition period, as we integrate more and more renewables into the system, energy storage can help the system run more securely and efficiently while extending the life of existing assets (for example grid infrastructure).
Energy storage is also important to help decarbonize the heating, cooling, and transport sectors through thermal storage, power-to-gas, and stationary storage devices that can help support the roll-out of electric vehicle charging infrastructure. Finally, storage can empower consumers to participate actively in the electricity market by generating, storing, and selling renewable electricity.
Each storage technology is uniquely suited to a particular set of applications. Different storage technologies can be combined together to form a hybrid system that can be greater than the sum of its parts. Storage technologies are incredibly diverse, capable of providing a host of valuable applications at all levels of the grid. This makes them an essential element to support the transition to a decarbonized energy system.