Who has the advantage between pumped hydro storage and new energy storage?

"Pumped storage power plants are the best complement to solar and wind power generation," said Stephen Lewis, president and CEO of Voith Hydro Asia Pacific, a well-known German multinational company, at the 2022 World Clean Energy Equipment Conference recently.

The pumped hydro storage mentioned by Stephen Lewis is the energy storage method with the most mature technology, the best economy and the most large-scale development conditions in the current hot energy storage track. According to the data of the Zhongguancun Energy Storage Industry Technology Alliance, as of 2021, the cumulative installed capacity of pumped storage will account for 86.2% of the power storage projects that have been put into operation around the world.

September 27, 2022

Although pumped hydro energy storage is the most widely used and has the highest proportion in the energy storage market, in the energy storage segment, electrochemical energy storage is the energy storage technology that has received the most attention in the market. At present, new energy storage represented by electrochemical energy storage is undergoing a new round of investment boom, and power battery companies are one of the main players. In the competition between pumped hydro and new energy storage, cost will be one of the key variables.

This summer, "hot" has become one of the keywords, and the degree of heat is extremely rare. From a global perspective, many places in the northern hemisphere have experienced extreme high temperatures during the same time period this year. Europe may be experiencing the most severe drought in 500 years; the absolute value of temperature in many places in my country has broken the record high, the duration is the longest, and the coverage above 40°C is the most extensive in history.

According to the latest assessment by the United Nations, global warming in the past 50 years is occurring at an unprecedented rate since the past 2,000 years, and carbon emissions are considered to be the "culprit" of this rare global heat wave. The situation of global climate change is becoming more and more severe, and it is imminent to speed up the energy transition and realize the "dual carbon" goal.

"In the process of achieving the 'dual carbon' goal, renewable energy represented by photovoltaics and wind energy is the main force. Over the past ten years, the cost of photovoltaic power generation has dropped by more than 90%, and it has generally dropped to less than 0.3 yuan/kWh. , It is expected that during the '14th Five-Year' period, it will further drop to below 0.25 yuan/kWh, which is lower than most coal-fired power... The advantages of photovoltaic power generation will be more obvious.

However, unstable energy supply is a long-term challenge for the development of renewable energy such as photovoltaics and wind energy. For example, photovoltaics cannot supply energy at night, and when there is no wind or typhoon, wind power generation cannot work. The intermittency and volatility of renewable energy sources such as photovoltaics and wind energy will cause a mismatch between supply and demand, which may lead to waste of power generation energy, and unstable power supply frequency of the grid, which will affect the quality of power supply.

Under the "dual carbon" goal, China's power system needs to transform into a new power system with new energy as the main body, and energy storage is the key to solving these problems. With the continuous reduction of costs, the large-scale application of energy storage will also provide a solid guarantee for smoothing the fluctuation of renewable energy.

In this context, energy storage is also generally considered to be the next trillion-dollar market that may explode, with great development potential.

At present, energy storage technology routes are mainly divided into two types: physical energy storage and chemical energy storage. The former is represented by pumped water storage, compressed air energy storage, flywheel energy storage, etc.; the latter is represented by lithium-ion batteries, sodium-ion batteries, lead-acid batteries, and flow batteries.

According to the Blue Book on the Development of the Global Clean Energy Equipment Industry (2021), from 2010 to 2021, the installed power of global energy storage systems increased by 41.08% to 191.28GW, and the global energy storage capacity increased by 47.59% to 672.2GWh. At present, pumped storage is the most mature technology, the most widely used, and the highest proportion.

Pumped storage is the energy storage method with the most mature technology, the best economy, and the most large-scale development conditions at present.

However, compared with the more traditional energy storage method of pumped hydro storage, the current market is most concerned about new energy storage. The so-called new energy storage generally refers to new electric energy storage technologies other than pumped storage, including electrochemical energy storage, compressed air energy storage, flywheel energy storage, etc. In the new energy storage, most of them are electrochemical energy storage (lithium-ion batteries, sodium-ion batteries, lead-acid batteries, flow batteries), especially lithium-ion batteries.

Under the new energy storage boom, the shipments of energy storage batteries have soared. According to GGII data, domestic energy storage battery shipments in 2021 will be 48GWh, a year-on-year increase of 2.6 times; it is expected that domestic energy storage batteries will continue to maintain rapid growth in 2022, and it is conservatively estimated that annual shipments are expected to exceed 90GWh, an increase of 88% year-on-year.

Whether it is pumped hydro storage or new energy storage, cost will be the most important consideration. According to estimates, the cost of other energy storage such as electrochemistry is also expected to be reduced to 0.2-0.3 yuan/KWh during the "14th Five-Year Plan" period. If the cost reduction of energy storage batteries can be effectively achieved, this will approach the cost of current pumped hydro storage.

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