Jump to main content
Jump to site search
Access to RSC content Close the message box

Continue to access RSC content when you are not at your institution. Follow our step-by-step guide.


Issue 12, 2015
Previous Article Next Article

How much bulk energy storage is needed to decarbonize electricity?

Author affiliations

Abstract

High cost and technical immaturity of bulk (multi-hour) electricity storage (BES) systems are often cited as major hurdles to increasing the penetration of intermittent renewables. We use a simple model to assess the economics of BES under carbon emissions constraints. Size and dispatch of a green-field generation fleet is optimized to meet a variable load at a 15 minute time resolution. Electricity supply options are wind, gas turbine, BES, and a generic dispatchable-zero-carbon (DZC) source as a proxy for fossil fuel plants with carbon capture or nuclear plants. We review the cost of selected BES technologies and parameterize the performance of storage, focusing on the energy- and power-specific capital costs. We examine sensitivity of the electricity cost to storage performance under a range of emissions constraints. Availability of inexpensive BES systems in general and particularly electrochemical technologies has a small impact on the overall cost of decarbonization. Proportional reductions in capital costs of wind and DZC lower decarbonization costs far more. We find no economic justification for seasonal storage. Intermittent renewables can be used to decarbonize the electricity supply with a proportionally small requirement for BES because gas provides much of the intermittency management even when the carbon emissions intensity is cut to less than 30% of today's U.S. average. Substantial BES is required only when emissions are constrained to nearly zero and DZC is not allowed.

Graphical abstract: How much bulk energy storage is needed to decarbonize electricity?

Back to tab navigation

Supplementary files

Article information


Submitted
11 May 2015
Accepted
04 Sep 2015
First published
04 Sep 2015

This article is Open Access

Energy Environ. Sci., 2015,8, 3409-3417
Article type
Analysis
Author version available

How much bulk energy storage is needed to decarbonize electricity?

H. Safaei and D. W. Keith, Energy Environ. Sci., 2015, 8, 3409
DOI: 10.1039/C5EE01452B

This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported Licence. Material from this article can be used in other publications provided that the correct acknowledgement is given with the reproduced material.

Reproduced material should be attributed as follows:

  • For reproduction of material from NJC:
    [Original citation] - Published by The Royal Society of Chemistry (RSC) on behalf of the Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique (CNRS) and the RSC.
  • For reproduction of material from PCCP:
    [Original citation] - Published by the PCCP Owner Societies.
  • For reproduction of material from PPS:
    [Original citation] - Published by The Royal Society of Chemistry (RSC) on behalf of the European Society for Photobiology, the European Photochemistry Association, and RSC.
  • For reproduction of material from all other RSC journals:
    [Original citation] - Published by The Royal Society of Chemistry.

Information about reproducing material from RSC articles with different licences is available on our Permission Requests page.


Social activity

Search articles by author

Spotlight

Advertisements