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Innovation

The Power of Power When you Need it

What is the fundamental role of electricity? It’s not just the transformational potential to power buildings, vehicles, objects and devices, it’s the power to do so when we need it. That question of need adds a challenging complexity to our electricity landscape, and it’s a complexity that GE is working to tackle with its innovative Renewable Hybrids solutions, which can combine energy generations sources as well as energy storage solutions together.

On a global scale, the need and demand for electricity has experienced unprecedented growth in recent decades. That growth will inevitably continue in coming years, with analysts predicting a 57% rise in global electricity demand by 2050. The challenge today is to match this growing electricity demand at the time and place of need with emerging generation sources, and it is where renewable hybrids and battery energy storage innovations have a role to play.

Innovation in a time of change

In 1799, Italian inventor Allesandro Volta designed what’s widely regarded as the world’s first electric battery. With over two centuries of evolution since, battery technologies have transformed from proof-of-concept models, to rare and valuable power sources, through to everyday items found in devices in our pockets. Today, GE’s Reservoir technology takes that innovation to a larger scale.

GE’s Reservoir technologies offer flexible, large-scale battery energy storage solutions that meet the needs of the modern era. They combine the latest digital technology with GE’s outstanding engineering capabilities to provide that crucial link between electricity need and electricity generation. What’s at the heart of this growing pressure for such innovative storage solutions? The accelerating adoption of renewable energy.

Renewable energy has seen remarkable growth in the last decade, as the growing threat of climate change and drive for cleaner energy sources transform the power ecosystem. In 2008, the world had just over 1 million megawatts of installed renewable energy capacity. By 2017, that figure had more than doubled to almost 2.2 million megawatts. GE Renewable Energy, Energy Storage CEO Rob Morgan recognizes that this exciting renewable revolution comes with a particular challenge for power demand.

While gas and coal will continue to play a substantial role in base-load power, the accelerating emergence of renewable energy is transforming our energy ecosystem.” Says Rob Morgan. “Enabling that transformation requires more than just innovation in how we generate electricity, but innovation in how we ensure it’s available at the point of need. Building the future of power will require storing power today, so consumers can enjoy it tomorrow. That’s the future which GE’s Reservoir is designed to support.”

Renewable storage solutions

Renewable energy has grown to become a powerful, carbon-free solution to complement our current energy networks, part of a vital transition towards a low-carbon electricity ecosystem. This innovation-driven evolution has seen rapid expansion of new generation technologies spread throughout the world.

When the wind blows, the turbines turn. When the sun shines, photovoltaic solar cells can transform that energy into electricity.  And, seamlessly integrating renewable energy generation sources and battery energy storage solutions together will help meet power requirements when needed. The battery system will store the energy that the solar field or wind farm generates and discharge during power demand periods.

In a space the size of a shipping container, GE’s innovative energy storage solution represents the most energy-dense storage solution ever conceived. With 26 metric tonnes of lithium ion batteries, electronics, and climate control, it can harness more than 4 megawatt-hours of electricity in just a single unit.

GE’s Reservoir is a flexible solution with all the advantages of a well-engineered ‘Plug and Play’ technology, requiring only simple electrical work on-site. Off-site assembly allows customers to customise this storage solution to their unique operational needs, while enjoying a 75% faster start-up compared to similar technologies.

GE’s solution also provides enhanced reliability for safe, sustainable operations, improving safety by reducing fault current by up to 5 times, ensuring safer on-site installation, and providing a solution that’s suitable in even remote locations. This focus on flexible, durable technology contributes to GE’s Reservoir’s projected 25-year life span in the field.

This efficient, modular deployment means that battery energy storage technologies can provide a solution for increasingly complex renewable energy grid systems as well as growing distributed off-grid generation in commercial or industrial installations. That means whether the sun is shining, or the wind is blowing, dispatchable electrical power can be enjoyed as and when consumers need it.

GE’s Reservoir represents the cutting-edge of battery storage technology. Like any technology at the edge of innovation, it’s not a solution which is standing still. The energy storage capabilities found in a 20-foot shipping container today would have required a 70-foot building just a few years ago. With storage solutions from hybrid renewables or gas-battery storage to increasingly innovative lithium-ion solutions, the future is bright and opportunities are limitless for the energy industry.

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