Energy Storage: The Key To Delivering Energy Access In Emerging Markets
Mahabir Sharma, Chief Technical Officer, AMEA Power
Energy storage is now recognised a sa critical component for delivering the global energy transition. Storage solutions like pump-storage hydro, batteries and other emerging technologies are key enablers for renewable energy deployment and essential for achieving a sustainable, resilient energy system.
Energy storage systems, such as lithium-ion batteries, can store excess energy generated from renewable sources like solar and wind power, which can be used during periods of low generation or high demand. This can help to ensure a stable and reliable electricity supply, even in remote areas where grid infrastructure is limited.
Due to its wide spread adoption across consumer electronics, electric vehicles and now utility applications, the cost of lithium-ion has dropped more than 80% over the last decade. By 2030, energy storage installations around the world, many of which will be lithium-ion batteries, are projected to reach a cumulative 411GW (or 1,194GWh), according to the latest forecast from Bloomberg NEF (BNEF). This is around 15 times the global storage capacity the world has today.
However, the deployment of advanced energy storage systems has to date been highly concentrated in select markets, primarily in regions with more developed economies. The U.S. state of California for example has more than 3GW of utility-scale battery storage systems already installed, while in Australia is home to some of the world’s largest batteries, including the Hornsdale Power Reserve, whichwas built in 63 day and stores150MW/194MWh.
Due to the lack of energy access and load shedding, people and businesses across the continent currently rely heavily on back-up generators, which are estimated to consume one of every five litres of diesel and petrol used in Africa.
As the deployment of renewable energy begins to grow and demand for energy continues to rise, energy storage will also become essential for emerging markets across Latin America, South East Asia, and Africa. The International Finance Corporation(IFC) estimates that new installations in battery energy storage annually in emerging markets will grow from around 1.1GW today to more than 27GW in 2030.
Delivering energy access in Africa
Today Africa is experiencing two major challenges. The first is delivering access to the 600 million people who lack electricity across the continent, and the second is meeting the rising demand of energy.
Due to the lack of energy access and load shedding, people and businesses across the continent currently rely heavily on back-up generators, which are estimated to consume one of every five litres of diesel and petrol used in Africa. In sub‐Saharan Africa alone, such capacity amounts to around 45GW, more than all the renewables‐based generating capacity in the region.
The power crisis in South Africa is resulting in widespread blackouts lasting 15 hours a day as the country has decommissioned many of its inefficient coal-fired power plants. The aging infrastructure combined with a rising demand for energy has resulted in a shortfall of around 4GW – 6GW of power every day or about 10% of South Africa’s current use.
The widespread electricity shortages in South Africa are impacting people’s everyday lives and crippling businesses. It is estimated that South Africa is currently losing around 2% of its GDP due to power cuts.
The retail group Pick n Pay has recently reported that it spends around R60 million ($3.35 million) per monthrunning diesel generators to keep the lights on across its stores in South Africa.
To help address the energy crisis, the Department of Mineral Resources and Energy has issued a series of tenders for renewable energy projects and has launched the Battery Energy Storage Capacity Bid Window of the Independent Power Producers Procurement Programme (Battery Energy Storage IPPPP). The tender aims to secure 513 MW/2,052 MWh of storage across five sites.
"Storage is not a short-term fix to the electricity grid, it needs to be part of long-term, holistic planning which will provide greater stability to the network."
With 60 – 80% of people living in rural areas in many countries across Africa, energy storage can also support the development of off-grid and rural electrification programme.By combining energy storage with renewable energy sources like solar and wind power, communities can have access to electricity 24/7, which can have significant impacts on social and economic development.
In Togo, construction of the third phase of the Sheikh Mohammed Bin Zayed Solar PV Park has begun, which will see the plant expanded from 50 to 70MW and will include a 4WMh lithium-ion battery to meet electricity demand at nightof the nearby community. The integration of renewable energy and storage is something that is being exploredacross other parts of Africa.
Another major application for energy storage is in microgrids, which are small-scale power grids that can operate independently of the main grid. Microgrids can provide reliable and sustainable electricity to communities, businesses, and industrial operations that are in remote areas or have unreliable grid connections. Developersareworking closely with the commercial and industrial (C&I) sectoracross the continent, including mining companies, which currently spend between 10 to 35% of project costs on electricity generation.
Energy storage still has obstacles to overcome
Despite the strong demand for energy storage in Africa and other emerging markets, project developers still face major challenges when deploying projects. Many emerging markets do not have clear policies or regulations in place that support the deployment of energy storage systems, which can make it difficult for investors and developers to finance and build energy storage projects.
Storage is not a short-term fix to the electricity grid, it needs to be part of long-term, holistic planningwhich will provide greater stability to the network. Storage technologies can time shift excess or off-peak power to times of high demand or support the grid during times of low generation, however,there needs to be adequate power on the network to charge the battery storage system. With many parts of Africa struggling to meet demand, storage needs to be developed hand-in-hand with renewable energy projects to optimise its potential, while ensuring there is clear business case for the technology.
With many emerging markets rapidly deploying wind and solar projects at scale, there are a number of lessons and best practices that can be taken from other more advanced electricity networks. Adopting these insights, combined with long term planning and selecting the right technologies, energy storage will play an increasingly important role in the development of many emerging market countries over the coming decade.