What are Energy Storage Systems?
Energy storage systems (ESS) are technologies which allow energy to be stored at one point in time, in order to be used at a later point when needed. Pure energy can be in various forms, including chemical, electrical, kinetic, gravitational and thermal. ESS can “capture” these for later use, often converting them into a more easily-storable form of energy in the process.
As industries in the UK shift towards sustainable practices to reach zero emissions by 2050, ESS are becoming more relevant than ever. The National Grid reports that hydrogen and carbon capture and storage systems need to be operational within this decade if that target is to be reached.
As we make the transition to be fully powered by renewable sources such as solar, wind and hydroelectric, we require energy storage systems that allow us to use the produced energy even when those renewable sources are temporarily unavailable.
Examples of Energy Storage Systems
Electric power grids around the world utilise ESS to optimise their distribution networks. Many different forms of energy storage systems exist; here we explore 3 main categories.
Batteries are the most well-known energy storage systems. Rechargeable batteries, in particular, are essential technologies in a fully sustainable world. Through storing electrical energy as chemical energy, they enable the use of mobile phones, electric vehicles and ships.
In addition, households equipped with solar panels must utilise rechargeable batteries in order to reach an efficiency greater than 40%. Rechargeable batteries are also used within renewable power stations to store energy for peak hours.
The UK government plans to build giant battery systems to optimise its renewable energy storage, with a 50MW storage in England and 350MW storage in Wales.
Hydroelectric dams are a type of ESS which store water in a reservoir when energy output is at low demand and release it to generate power through turbines at high demand. Although they don’t directly store electrical energy, they store the potential to produce it whenever needed.
Pumped-storage hydroelectric dams work similarly, pumping water to a high-altitude reservoir at periods of low demand, to be released at periods of high demand to generate power through turbines, generators and transformers. Pumped-storage hydroelectricity is considered the largest-capacity form of energy storage used in power grids.
Hydrogen can be used to store energy in the form of hydrogen fuel cells. Hydrogen energy storage can prove more difficult compared to other chemical fuel cells, such as methane. However, hydrogen fuel cells are more environmentally friendly, as the only byproduct from their chemical reaction is water.
In the UK, the predominant use of hydrogen is currently as an industrial feedstock for petroleum and ammonia production. Apart from industry, the most predominant sector which uses hydrogen is transport. With the UK being a part of the Joint Initiative for Hydrogen Vehicles across Europe (JIVE), more than 13 hydrogen fuelling stations, 2 hydrogen fuel cell electric vehicle models and 88 hydrogen buses have now started operating in the country.
Adhesives & Sealants for Energy Storage Systems
DOWSIL silicone sealants have a long and proven history of providing sustainable solutions for the energy industry. DOWSIL’s adhesives and sealants are particularly useful for assembling batteries, providing thermal management, adhesion, PCB protection and encapsulation. Two of these solutions are described below, but you can discover DOWSIL’s full range of products for Battery Pack Assembly.
DOWSIL 7091 is a high-performance silicone adhesive and sealant that can be used for bonding applications with battery assembly. It provides unprimed adhesion, is easy to apply and can be used as a formed-in-place gasket (FIPG) material.
DOWSIL 3-6548 is a silicone foam that can be used to seal fire-rated penetrations within battery connectors. It is resistant to extreme conditions, non-corrosive and cures at room temperature.
Araldite CW 1302/HY 1300 is an epoxy casting and impregnating system that can be used for the casting and impregnating of batteries, connectors, inverters, converters, sensors, wire harnesses, switches and electronic control units. It provides excellent thermal endurance and works well on high-voltage applications.
Araldite 2014-2 is a two-component epoxy adhesive that can be used for bond magnets and other metal components within generators. It is very resistant to water and a wide variety of chemicals and suitable for filling gaps in vertical applications.
Xiameter PMX-561 is a silicone transformer liquid that can be used for insulating voltage switches and circuit breakers in transformers, including those in hydropower systems. It is non-toxic, highly-stable at extreme temperatures and resistant to oxidation.