Alternative Energy

What is an Energy Storage System?

Energy storage systems, alternatively referred to as battery energy storage systems (BESSs), are a type of technology that facilitate energy storage. They are primarily used to store energy generated from renewables, though they can also be used to store energy generated from fossil fuels and nuclear plants.

While there are many variations of BESSs, most modern systems feature lithium-ion batteries, which are also used in electric cars, mobile phones, and countless other rechargeable devices.

Essential Components

Battery energy storage systems contain other essential components, including:

  • A bidirectional inverter
  • Circuit breakers
  • Isolation transformers
  • Control systems
  • Cooling systems

Of these components, the bidirectional inverter is undoubtedly the most critical, aside from the battery itself. A bidirectional inverter converts electricity from a direct current to an alternating current and vice versa.

When electricity is en route to the batteries, the inverter converts the voltage from AC to DC. When the system draws energy out of the battery, the inverter converts the electricity back to AC voltage.

Harnessing the Power of Renewables with Energy Storage Systems

Renewable energy solutions, such as solar panels, wind turbines, and hydroelectric facilities, offer a viable alternative to fossil fuels. Cumulatively, these resources can generate a tremendous amount of power and satiate humanity’s demand for electricity; however, some renewable energy sources, such as solar and wind power, are not readily available 24 hours a day.

Fortunately, energy storage systems allow utility companies, businesses, and homeowners to store electricity for later use. These storage systems play a key role in society’s ability to harness the full power of renewable energies.

How Does an Energy Storage System Work?

Energy storage systems must be connected to the energy grid or network, as well as the power-generating devices. Let’s use residential solar panels as a simple example.

In a residential application, the homeowner’s energy storage system would be connected to their home’s electrical system and wired directly to their solar panels.

As the panels generate electricity, some (or all) of the power would be routed to the battery storage system. The precise amount of power routed to the battery system would vary based on the homeowner’s consumption habits. The bidirectional inverter would convert the power from an AC to a DC voltage so that the batteries can store the electricity.

In the evening, when solar panels no longer generate solar power, the BESS would run the homeowner’s various appliances. Should the batteries be depleted before the panels generate more power, the home would draw its electricity from the usual utility company.

Benefits of Storing Generated Energy

Storing generated energy with a BESS allows homeowners and businesses to reduce utility expenses. Businesses that have invested in energy storage and solar technologies can also power their facilities during brief power outages.

Energy storage systems also help businesses and homeowners use renewable electricity when it cannot be generated, for instance, when the wind is not blowing or when the sun has gone down.

The most notable benefit of energy storage systems is that they make the transition to renewable energy resources more practical. Businesses, homeowners, and society as a whole can pair renewable energy systems with BESSs to access electricity around the clock.

Applications for Energy Storage Systems

Energy storage systems can be used for various applications when combined with electricity generation technology. At the most basic levels, BESSs can power private residences, as well as small equipment such as lights.

On a broader scale, utility companies can use BESSs to store renewable electricity during daylight hours and disperse said energy at night. While energy storage systems and the renewable electricity generation technology that fuels them are not yet sophisticated enough to replace fossil fuels, that is the ultimate goal.

Consumers can do their part to combat climate change and support renewable energy initiatives by investing in BESSs. This technology will not only reduce emissions but also help cut energy costs each season.