How Does Ultracapacitor Energy Storage Work?
Here’s a question the energy storage industry faces today: How can energy storage devices, such as ultracapacitors and batteries, collaborate as one system to maximize value for grid operators?
- Energy storage enables grid operators and consumers to have energy on demand. Energy storage can capture the excess renewable energy generated during the times when there is abundant sunshine and wind and provide that energy for periods when it’s not present.
- Grid infrastructure equipment and assets are expected to operate for decades—grid operators should be interested in employing energy storage systems that match the lifetime of other assets on the grid.
- Ultracapacitors, flywheels and batteries have their own unique strengths within energy storage. A lithium-ion battery or flow battery excels at storing several hours-worth of energy. Ultracapacitors excel at delivering burst power and are able to respond quickly to changes.
- Because ultracapacitors operate in an electric field, they move charge much faster to provide high power, fast responding characteristics. An ultracapacitor can operate at hundreds of thousands to millions of cycles because the device doesn’t have the same chemical degradation mechanisms of a battery.
- Utilities are exploring where energy storage needs to be located on the grid, what kind of services the system can provide, and what the lifetime of the system would be. Work is being done at the policy level and utility level to enable energy storage on the grid.
- Over time, we are shifting to a distributed energy storage model. In fossil fuel, power generation is centralized. In renewables such as solar and wind, energy storage will be increasingly co-located with solar and wind farms.
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