New technologies such as solar power and grid energy storage are revolutionizing the energy sector. However, to successfully integrate these technologies into the grid, utilities must adapt and run their systems in novel ways. In a recent paper published in Nature Energy, leading experts from the U.S. Department of Energy’s Argonne National Laboratory and other institutions highlight the urgent need for better energy system models to support this transition.
The paper specifically focuses on capacity expansion models, which are utilized to simulate future grids and identify optimal investments over a multi-year timeframe. These models take into account a range of complex factors, including new policies, technology advancements, and electricity demand forecasts. Electric utilities rely on these models for long-term grid planning, while regulators and governmental agencies use them to evaluate energy and environmental policies.
One challenge that the paper highlights is the lack of consideration given to the state of charge in models. The state of charge refers to the amount of energy stored in a battery at a given time. By incorporating this information into the models, grid operators can better determine if storage systems can meet demand during moments of unpredicted low wind and solar generation. Enhancements are needed to track changes in the state of charge as the grid evolves.
The paper also draws attention to the supply chain challenges associated with manufacturing energy storage technologies. To identify the best decarbonization pathways, it is crucial to consider global battery supply chains. Modelers may need to limit the deployment of certain storage technologies due to volatile supply chains.
Furthermore, the paper emphasizes the importance of ensuring that the benefits of the clean energy transition are shared equitably across all segments of the population. Historically, disadvantaged communities have had limited access to clean energy technologies. Energy storage has the potential to promote equity by reducing energy costs in these communities and enhancing their resilience during extreme weather events.
To address these challenges, researchers at national laboratories and universities are working on developing and demonstrating ideas for model improvements. Promising concepts will then be further researched and adopted by industry-sponsored research and incorporated into commercial modeling tools. Argonne National Laboratory is taking the lead in developing advanced models and making them available as open-source software, aiming to accelerate industry adoption and facilitate the clean energy transition.
– U.S. Department of Energy’s Argonne National Laboratory
– Nature Energy paper: [source URL removed]