ORIGINAL REPORTING: A Long Term Strategy To Reach Zero Carbon Is Emerging
‘No regrets’ approach to big batteries, green hydrogen and grid reliability urgently needed, analysts say; Uncertainty and opportunity in the Biden administration’s infrastructure and climate bill incentives challenge regulators and utilities to plan smarter.
Herman K. Trabish, January 31, 2023 (Utility Dive)
Editor’s note: Although stakeholders and vested interests continue to try to force the logic of their technologies forward, investors and federal agencies continue to focus on building wind, solar, batteries, and transmission and study the spectrum of other possibilities.
While they are potential key resources of a net zero emissions energy sector, advanced long-duration battery technologies and green hydrogen generated from water with clean energy face perplexing uncertainties.
First, they may not be ready until the late 2030s and early 2040s, global consultant DNV said Oct. 13. Or Form Energy’s 100-hour battery systems will see “broad commercialization” by 2024, as the company said Dec. 22, and green hydrogen will “play a major role in global emissions reductions by 2030,” as reported by RMI Oct. 11.
Second, that uncertainty may be amplified by significant long-term incentives for both resources in 2022’s Inflation Reduction Act, or IRA and 2021’s bipartisan infrastructure law as well as the just-released national transportation decarbonization plan, analysts said. RH2 and battery providers are seeking the new billions available in the legislation, with either potentially winning overlapping opportunities.
The incentives “are shifting possibilities” for long-duration energy storage, or LDES, technologies “like Form Energy’s battery and green hydrogen” that can meet extended system outages, said American Clean Power Association, or ACP, Vice President, Energy Storage, Jason Burwen. But “neither has been deployed at grid scale yet, which makes this a horse race between two hypotheticals,” he added.
But there are ways advanced batteries and renewables-generated hydrogen, or RH2, could be synergistic with each other or with other clean firm resources in a post-2030 power supply, utility planners and energy sector analysts agreed. Clean firm energy technologies will be needed for a “zero-carbon grid,” but both advanced batteries and RH2 seem to have advantages and disadvantages, and “there’s a future where each finds a niche role in the market,” said Energy Plus Environmental Economics, or E3, Senior Partner Arne Olson. “It only seems now like a race because it is not possible to know which will fit the energy mix best in 20 years,” he added.
The general consensus, that lithium-ion, or li-ion, batteries are the answer now for light-duty electric vehicles, and RH2 is heavy industry’s best clean energy option, leaves the LDES future in the power sector uncertain, analysts said. But LDES will be vital at high levels of variable renewables and regulators and utilities can apply a “no-regrets” planning strategy now to ensure a reliable, least-cost future power system, they added… click here for more