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Key Long Duration Storage Technologies to Watch

Pritil Gunjan
Mar 16, 2021

Guidehouse Insights

Shifting renewable energy from solar and wind will play an essential role in the applications that energy storage serves over the next decade. Grid infrastructure and customer needs, including peak demand period, drive most of application requirements. Historically, pumped hydro storage (PHS) projects have been used to balance load on a system, enabling large nuclear and thermal power stations to operate at peak efficiencies. However, as more economical long duration technologies become available and the penetration of renewable energy increases, the duration requirement across long duration energy storage is expected to increase. Power purchase agreements, capacity contracts, and demand response programs make up most of the operating models across the storage industry.

Some Longer Duration Technologies Use Waste Heat and Cold

Longer duration technologies such as some flow batteries, certain lithium ion (Li-ion) chemistries, compressed air energy storage (CAES), and PHS are some of the key technologies to watch out for over the next decade. The liquid air system, a variant of CAES, can take advantage of waste heat and cold. It is a fitting option for applications that have a heat source such as colocating with thermal power generation or waste cold from industrial processes like liquefied natural gas terminals.

According to Guidehouse Insights, flow batteries are anticipated to see the greatest decline in costs over the next decade. Li-ion batteries have the second largest decline, followed by zinc batteries and thermal storage solutions. Flow batteries are expected to see the greatest decrease in levelized cost due to the expected substantial decline in CAPEX. Pumped hydro is a mature technology. A substantial portion of pumped hydro project cost is associated with labor and permitting generally attributed to geographical limitations of these projects. However, improved designs allowing for faster installation will offset some increases in labor costs.

New Battery Chemistries Are Versatile

Energy storage technology has become considerably more adaptable since 2010. Battery chemistries offer both the technical feasibility and cost-efficiency for long duration storage applications. Advanced Research Projects Agency–Energy’s Duration Addition to Electricity Storage program aims to pursue new long duration storage technologies with discharge durations ranging from 10 up to 100 hours at rated output power. Regulation and public partnerships will continue to play a critical driver in further technology development.