The benefits of using renewable energy resources – such as wind, sun and hydropower – are becoming more accessible and well-known, and using them is becoming more common. They can reduce our dependency on more harmful power sources like fossil fuels and reduce the amount of pollution and greenhouse gases we emit. Cleaner air helps the planet and can improve public health outcomes, even saving lives, for those of us on it.
From businesses and policymakers to engineers and utilities, many people are encouraging more investment and a faster transition into clean, green, sustainable energy production. Innovative energy storage technologies are going to be the catalyst for our sustainable and environmentally friendly future.
The intermittent supply of wind or sun must be firmed up; advanced battery and power storage tools will help save some electricity for a rainy day. Requiring adequate storage will be especially important in areas where grid connections can be tenuous or unreliable. Africans, especially South Africans, have seen the consequences of insufficient electricity generation and supply. Blackouts, costly electricity, load-shedding and the like have plagued our grids for decades.
Like with anything in large supply, solar energy generation could be an affordable solution for Africa. Most countries on the continent suffer from weak electrical grids and transitioning to any new power generation and storage system could be difficult. Chronic power shortages and blackouts have required huge resource inputs and institutional corrections which are not happening at scale yet. The social and economic impact of these trends cannot be overstated and will have ripple effects in every business and every home.
New forms of energy storage and flexible power plants could help us make these much-needed adaptations to create sustainable and efficient systems. Africa has the largest untapped solar energy resource-potential in the world along with incredible access to hydro and wind power too, depending on the region. By integrating renewable processes into the current ones, countries across the continent can begin to unburden their insufficient electrical grids.
New energy storage systems offer exciting ways to manage and increase power supplies for a more resilient and effectual electricity infrastructure while helping bring down the cost of utilities for consumers. Renewable energy will be accessible whenever it is needed, not only when it is generated, thanks to advancements in battery technology. Traditional batteries are too small and do not provide the long-duration storage that will be needed; necessitating the many advancements in energy storage technology
Meeting the rising power demands of a developing continent is what the new energy storage technologies coming out will have to address. As stated, the growing affordability of renewable energy is an exciting trend, but variability will remain a problem. The sun does not always shine and an electrical grid is built in such a way that is requires a consistent and equal balance between electricity supply and demand – overcast or gloomy.
Traditional power plants have been attempting to manage this balancing act for a hundred years with marginal success. Coal, nuclear and gas turbine plants are not as flexible as a system that can be turned on and off. One that responds to changing weather conditions or grid stability problems. Electrical grids in Africa were often designed to meet a 20th Century energy demand that required less flexibility and a smaller capacity.
Electricity networks’ designs in African have left large portions of the continent vulnerable to grid congestion and failures. Reliability means a grid should be able to carry enough power to satisfy consumer electricity demands while having room to grow in the future. This problem is, of course, solvable with renewable energy that is available on a cloudy or windless day. Hence, why significant improvements in sustainable storage technology need to – and are – being made.
This will be a truly game-changing solution for the African continent that has struggled for so long to provide dependable and consistent energy supplies to her people. Battery storage could provide the much-needed buffer between the demand and supply of power that gives a grid the time to rebalance itself before and after a disturbance. Grid reliability and security in Africa necessitates a change in the way we produce and distribute power. Integrating renewables and energy storage technology to support current systems could be the end of blackouts for us.
A safer, cleaner and healthier future for everyone requires less pollution and lower dependency on fossil fuels and replacing them with sustainable and reliable sources of electricity that are environmentally friendly. There is no question that renewable resources will be at the heart of any substantial and enduring energy transformation in Africa. The introduction of flexible power plants, new energy storage systems and renewable power generation (and storage) into our failing electrical grids could be the battery jumpstart we need.