Energy on Tap: Five Cool Facts about Energy Storage


At every corner of the world, there is more demand than ever on the power grid. To counter this demand, technologists are introducing new, increasingly cost-effective ways to store energy and draw from it on demand.


1. The energy storage market is on the rise. The energy storage market is booming, up 40 percent in 2014. Why? The surge in renewable energy use, urbanization and grid disruptions are placing more demands than ever on grid operators to ensure stable, reliable access to electricity.


2. You may be sitting a few hundred feet from an energy storage system.  Take a look out of your office or school window, and there’s a chance you could spot an energy storage system. If not yet, soon. These systems can be used anywhere on the power grid, and new technology is ensuring these systems are safe so that they can be used within urban areas, like cities – improving the reliability of local grids.


3. Energy storage works hand in hand with renewable energy.  While renewables – such as solar or wind power – are providing more energy than ever to the grid, the unpredictable patterns of things like the sun and wind make managing energy flows challenging. Energy storage that can operate for hours at a time is needed to store the energy from these sources and then release it whenever there is a peak in demand. Lockheed Martin is designing and developing short and long-duration energy storage systems for utilities, as well as commercial and industrial customers, to ensure energy from these renewable sources is available 24/7.


4. Flow batteries are one of the most promising ways to store energy.  A flow battery uses liquid-filled tanks that can be activated on demand to add power or regulate energy across the grid. This is especially important during times when utilities need to adjust for energy from variable or unpredictable power sources, as well as times of peak demand, such as the summertime when air conditioners are in use.


5. Flow batteries work differently than the batteries you use at home  Fully rechargeable, a flow battery uses liquid electrolytes consisting of a dissolved energy component in water. Unlike the batteries you might use at home, the electrolyte is not stored in a cell with electrodes, but rather externally in tanks separate from the cell. Electricity is generated when the liquid electrolytes flow through the cells and react with the electrodes. Currently, Lockheed Martin is developing a flow battery with patented electrolyte technology that offers huge potential for cost-effective energy storage.