Clean EnergyEnergy Storage
Energy storage, put simply, is the production and stockpiling of surplus energy for later use. It is often thought of as the key aspect that will allow for wide-spread renewable energy and distributed energy deployment. Energy storage involves not only the capture of electricity for later use, but also heat and other mediums that can later be used to generate power.
There are also ways in which energy storage can directly improve energy efficiency by storing heat or through the use of frozen mediums. Many energy storage applications are new technologies that are still undergoing development, but costs associated with production continue to fall and energy density, or the amount of energy stored in proportion to a system’s volume, continues to rise.
Furthermore, many of the raw materials necessary to build various forms of energy storage technologies exist in impressive abundance in Latin America. This is something we are confident will grant the region a competitive position as the world moves further to a clean energy transformation.
Scale of Resource
The most directly accessible and likely least costly energy storage resource in Peru is in retrofitting existing hydroelectric facilities (see: Hydropower). In conjunction with an expansion of existing hydroelectric dams, there are likely many additional opportunities for pumped-hydro storage.
In terms of materials necessary for current market-driving energy storage technologies, such as materials for batteries, Peru and its neighbors are in a truly privileged position globally. It is estimated that Chile has the largest reserves of lithium in the world at more than 7.5 million metric tons, accounting for more than half of what’s known as “economic reserves”, or what is likely to be mined at a desirable profit margin. Additionally, around 75% of total economic reserves are thought to be in Chile, Bolivia and Argentina.
This means that Chile, and neighboring countries like Peru, stand to make considerable gains in the coming decades with investments in high-tech manufacturing. To add perspective to this opportunity, it is estimated that the global lithium battery market will explode from 15.9 GWh of production capacity (for the electric vehicle market alone) to more than 93 GWh by 2024, or 70% of the global rechargeable battery market. This is made possible by the significant expected rise in electric vehicle sales from just over 560,000 vehicles in 2015 to around 20 million in 2030.
One exciting and relatively efficient energy storage technology comes through the use of energy to compress air during off-peak or low energy cost periods for use during on-peak times or when energy costs are higher. Additionally, given that compressing air produces heat, systems that utilize this extra heat can dramatically improve overall energy efficiency by as much as 60%.
There are a variety of ways to store compressed air, all of which may be possible in Peru and around the region. The first is in a tank or vessel. This requires precise manufacturing and promises comparatively lower storage volume compared to other forms of compressed air storage. The second is in underwater pressure vessels which can improve efficiency and safety. A recent trial system constructed in Toronto, Canada hopes to demonstrate a compressed air system with improved efficiency and lower cost. The third is through the use of depleted subterranean mines for compressed air storage. This may provide economic viability to old or unproductive mines and also boasts impressive compressed air storage volume compared to other compressed air storage types.
As mentioned above, pumped hydro may be an easily accessible energy storage option for Peru. Through modifications to existing dams, or the addition of a pumped reservoir, this energy storage type could dramatically improve the capacity factor and overall capacity of Peru’s hydroelectric fleet. Pumped hydro involves pumping water into a large reservoir during off-peak times or when energy prices are low for use, much like a conventional hydropower station, during peak times or when energy prices are high. It may also be a useful tool in maintaining energy balance in an electric grid more reliant on renewable energy.
One of the most prominent forms of energy storage, and one that has been in use the longest, is in lead-acid batteries. Most of us are familiar with these types of batteries being used in our cars and trucks. While exhibiting an impressive, low-cost energy storage option, lead-acid batteries have in recent years raised serious environmental concerns. These concerns have inspired relatively successful recycling programs in countries around the world, but environmental concerns remain.
Still, the market for lead-acid batteries was greater than $15 billion in 2002.
Arguably the most impressive and exciting energy storage technology in development today is the lithium-ion battery. As previously mentioned, lithium-ion batteries are expected to fundamentally change global markets in transportation and renewable energy.
The manufacturing price of lithium-ion batteries continues to fall as production increases. Additionally, the energy density of new generations of lithium-ion batteries continues to rise. This allows products powered by lithium-ion batteries to perform better at lower cost.
Image below: A common lithium-ion battery used in cell phones
At present, the only major energy storage player in Peru is hydroelectric dams with an associated large reservoir. Expect hydropower to continue to play an important role in Peru’s power sector in the coming years. That being said, power producers and some utility service companies in Peru have begun to look to utility-scale energy storage battery systems as a way to maximize the efficiency of the existing power generation fleet, as well as with proposed solar and wind energy projects.
Regionally, the use and market of energy storage is expected to explode in the coming decades. Many national governments are prioritizing renewable energy projects to address increased energy demand, and new energy storage technologies are expected to grow in-kind. This will all depend heavily on the price of these energy storage technologies and the regulatory regimes put in place by governments around the region.
As mentioned above, the potential market for the exploitation and deployment of energy storage technologies in Peru and across the region is truly impressive. As resources from neighboring countries ramp up production, countries like Peru can play a role in producing finished products and facilitating regional project development.
As renewable energy becomes more widely utilized, more complex price structures and demand VS production disparities will require grid operators and policymakers to become more nimble and will encourage further deployment of energy storage technologies.
Importantly, as lithium-ion battery technology transforms the electric vehicle market globally and these technologies begin to be deployed in Peru and regionally, regional and national governments are presented with a powerful opportunity to fight threats to human health that come from current transportation emissions. Investment in energy storage technology and project development could dramatically lower healthcare costs here in Peru, a country widely seen as having the worst air quality in the region.
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 Greentech Media – Tam Hunt – “The Geopolitics of Lithium Production” – https://www.greentechmedia.com/articles/read/the-geopolitics-of-lithium-production#gs.fEb2lkw
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