Solar panels have one drawback that even the most ardent solar evangelists can agree on: they only produce electricity when the sun is shining. On the other hand, peak energy use occurs in the nights, coinciding with lower solar generation and resulting in a supply and demand problem.
Solar panels frequently produce enough energy during low-demand hours when the sun is shining to fulfill peak demand later in the day. This means that effective solar energy storage can provide a plethora of benefits to both individuals and businesses.
If power isn’t stored, it must be consumed immediately when it is generated. Energy storage enables surplus generation to be stored for peak demand. When it comes to renewable energy, storing excess power helps the lights stay on even when the sun sets, or the wind stops blowing.
Short-term solar energy storage ensures a steady energy flow during generator outages, such as passing clouds or routine maintenance. The electrical grid is prone to disturbances and outages from wildfires to severe weather.
Solar energy storage offers a protective bubble during the disruptive event by decentralizing where we acquire energy. Solar energy storage can be divided into three categories: thermal, battery, and mechanical. Let’s take a look at each one.
Thermal energy storage absorbs and retains heat from the sun using various materials, such as water or molten salt. This heated medium is kept in an insulated tank until it’s time to use it, which is normally to boil water for energy production.
Electrochemical batteries can also be used to store solar energy. When solar energy is injected into a battery, the energy is stored through a chemical process among the battery components. The reaction is reversed when the battery is depleted, allowing the current to depart the battery. Lithium-ion batteries are the most prevalent battery used in solar applications, and new battery technology is fast developing, promising cheaper, more scalable battery storage solutions.
To generate electricity, mechanical energy storage uses the potential energy of an object. The flywheel spins a flywheel with surplus electricity, generating electricity to provide quick energy during high-demand times.
Water is pumped upward to a reservoir above turbine generators in pumped hydro. When there is a significant demand for power, the water is permitted to run through turbines and generate electricity.
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