And for another year running, Energy Storage North America proved a great success and an invaluable occasion to get a big picture view of the Renewable Energy space.
As part of our commitment and devotion to the industry, Polyglot Group was a major sponsor of the event. We particularly sponsored the Australia stream on Global Grid Transformation, inspired by the 2017 Strategen report.
The event was substantially larger than it was last year.
This time around, I was especially excited to be moderating the Oxford Style Debate and see key industry figures discuss a pressing question that we face today – all in good humour and spirit!
The statement in question for the debate was that we can complete the transition to a completely carbon-free grid with today’s storage technology.
The topic was more than pertinent given Australia’s current situation.
It comes down to this: we cannot talk about switching entirely to renewables in any practical way without addressing the issue of energy storage.
The question was an interesting stimulus for discussion, as there is no right or wrong answer. Like with many things in life, the answer is somewhere in between.
The debaters from both sides brought forward strong arguments, representing some key actors in the energy space.
The participants on the affirmative side were John Boesel (CalStart), Lorraine Paskett (California Hydrogen Business Council), and Douglas “Stake” Staker (Enel X). Meanwhile, representing the negative were Danny Kennedy (CalCEF), Julian Jansen (IHS Markit), and Logan Golde-Scott (Bloomberg New Energy Finance).
Meanwhile, on the panel, my fellow adjudicators included representatives from Energy Australia, Australia Energy Storage Alliance, and United States Department of Commerce – all key players in the field.
Events like Energy Storage North America serve a crucial purpose in the Renewable space. They shed light on innovative yet viable storage solutions so that we can harness all of the clean energy that we generate.
The fact is that storage as its own sector shows huge potential for growth. In 2017, storage stood at 4.6GW and was worth US$1.5bn.
By 2025, we forecast a monumental 58GW (worth US$7.9bn), as well as 9 national markets with more than 1GW of installed storage capacity.
Installing this storage capacity is the first step – making full use of it is the next.
Combining renewable energy with adequate storage methods will stabilise the grid and provide energy wherever it is needed by having access to a baseload.
Debunking the myth about baseload power being solely associated to coal and fossil fuels will surely facilitate this.
Proper storage methods will also allow for exporting stored energy such as green hydrogen to other countries.
Making the Transition
At the moment, in the US, storage is used more for avoiding or managing blackouts than for renewable energy purposes – but that is changing fast.
In Australia, on the other hand, this is not the case.
Energy storage is key; not so much as a back-up measure, but for grid stability. With the increasing amount of renewable energy produced in the country, storage is a topic we cannot overlook.
In fact, the issue here is that with too much renewable energy (for example from wind or solar power), the overloaded grid could potentially shut down.
This is inevitable if there are no precautions around load management and energy storage added to the NEM.
Energy storage solutions allow for efficient and reliable use of power; the ability to export power from Australia to Asia and the rest of the world; and the possibility of delivering dispatchable energy.
Dispatchable energy refers to energy that can essentially be controlled to balance supply and demand, or ‘switched on or off’, when necessary. This would make renewables no different from fossil fuels in terms of readiness to use at any given point in time.
Though light-hearted and lots of fun, the debate also attracted around 600 attendees, and the conversation was right on the mark.
Ultimately, the conclusion about going carbon-free was this: it can be done.
Both sides of the argument were valid. Current technologies are sufficient; however, it will only get easier to transition to 100% clean energy over time. Emerging technologies, statistics, trends, conferences, and public discourse point to a more sustainable future.
We at Polyglot Group look forward to sponsoring Energy Storage North America again in 2019 and for even more innovative technologies, projects, funding, and policy changes to come.