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ENVS2003 Environmental Management And Sustainability

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ENVS2003 Environmental Management And Sustainability

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ENVS2003 Environmental Management And Sustainability

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Course Code: ENVS2003
University: University Of Plymouth is not sponsored or endorsed by this college or university

Country: United Kingdom


As a consultant, you have been invited to critically evaluate energy storage systems, in general, and the connection to Solar-PV and Wind Turbines, in particular.
Your task is to write a Report.  In particular, your report should concentrate on the following areas:
•Discuss the positive and negative aspects of energy storage systems.
•Explain the commercial availability of energy storage systems which can be used to support some of the renewable energy applications, other than batteries
• Examine the impacts on the environment during the usage of these energy systems, and the waste produced from some of these systems, if any, at the end of their life cycle.
• Provide cost-effective recommendations for efficient energy storage for solar-PV and Wind-Turbines systems.


Energy storage systems are the methods and technologies which are used to store electricity (Mahlia, 2014, p. 532). These energy storage systems have both positive and negative aspects which will be discussed in this task. The task will also identify other energy storage systems which are used to support renewable energy applications other than batteries. This task will also identify some of the effects of these systems on the environment. Lastly, the task will give the recommendations for efficient energy storage for solar-PV and Wind-Turbines and the future development in the field of energy storage systems (Chen, 2010, p. 291).
Aspects of energy storage systems
Even though we are moving away from the fossil fuels, we should understand that these fuels are both sources of energy and energy storage systems. Renewable energy is well utilized when energy is stored at times when supply exceeds demand (Exteberria, 2010, p. 532). Energy storage is useful even if it’s available and not needed and when it’s needed but not available. We should always store energy every time at a higher rate even if the demand is low. This is because at these times, the energy not needed will be stored for future use.
The energy storage methods include; electrochemical energy, mechanical energy, chemical energy storage and thermal energy storage.
In the pumped storage hydro form of energy storage, the excess energy that is not needed is used to pump water to the hill. By doing this, the water can be used when the demand is high to the regular flow. This method is 75% efficient even though it is not instantaneously available sometimes (European Commission, 2013). The hydrogen storage also uses the excess energy stored to produce both oxygen and hydrogen from water by electrolysis. Energy is also stored in compressed air where a motor-compressor pumps the air to the tank and where its later used later. The flywheels put the excess energy to a very heavy spinning rotor and because it has a large inertia, a constant speed is maintained. In the case of thermal storage, energy is stored in a medium at a temperature which will be used at high peaks (Rand, 2015). Lastly, the Holy Grail energy storage uses perfect batteries which are the best because they are able to provide the stored energy efficiently and they are clean. These energy storage systems have both positive and negative aspects.
Positive aspects
These are benefits that the energy storage systems have to the people, society and the government as whole (Bini, 2015). They are listed below;

i) The energy storage systems lead to a more efficient and effective use of intermittent sources of renewable energy(Chen, 2010, p. 291). Energy is stored in different systems which are more efficient and effective and these include the renewable sources of energy.
ii) When energy is stored at low demands, the need for increased peak generation capacity is reduced. When the energy is stored, this ensures that during high peak seasons it will be available at low costs.
iv) The energy storage systems can also be converted into an energy system which is smarter and more integrated(Jubeh, 2012, p. 85). This is because of the advanced technology which ensures that the installion of these energy storage systems is done in an advanced way.
v) Storing energy improves the cost and the performance continually. This is because when energy is not needed, it is stored for future use hence avoiding the costs which may be incurred in future when the energy will be needed(Alotto, 2014, p. 325).
vi) Through energy storage, the fossil sources and renewable sources are allowed to integrate. Example are the wind, solar, geothermal and hydro renewable sources of energy. When energy is stored in these sources, the integration process is enhanced.

Negative aspects
These are the challenges which occur due to the storage of energy especially at low demands. They are discussed below;

i) The storage of energy leads to more additional infrastructure and the space requirements(Bini, 2015). Transportation is required for these energy storage systems hence to distribute them, more infrastructure will be introduced to carry out the distribution.
ii) Energy storage leads to complexity and more costs(Benhadid-Dib, 2012, p. 807). Example is with the solar systems the initial purchasing costs are high. This is because, purchasing batteries, wiring, solar panels and the installation.

iii) The energy storage brings about inefficiencies in the energy lost in the low demand seasons. This is because when the demand of energy is low, people carelessly use it and they don’t store it (Bouman, 2013). This leads to inefficiencies because when the demand is high, there will be enough energy to offer.

iv) The energy storage systems mostly depend on solar even though they can also be collected during rainy and cloudy days(Alotto, 2014, p. 325). The energy cannot be collected at night hence when solar is not available there can be inadequate energy.
v) The energy storage systems use a lot of space especially the solar energy because the more the energy is produced, the more solar panels are required. Hence to installing such panels require a lot of space. This brings about inconveniences especially when there is no enough space available to install such systems.
vi) The energy storage systems are associated with pollution through their emissions. Example is the batteries which release a very toxic chemical which brings about pollution of water when released to the water bodies(European Commission, 2013).

Renewable energy applications
Of the energy that the world consumes, renewable sources only account for a small percentage. Advancement in technologies which has reduced use of fossil fuels has led to the development of these sources (Kang, 2013, p. 5495). Some of the renewable energy applications include; wind. Solar, hydropower and geothermal.
These systems are used in wind-power operations and they include; wind-assessment systems, turbine-performance systems and the wind-forecasting stations.
These solar energy applications include the solar thermal, photovoltaic and the concentrated solar power.
These are used in the dams which require more measurements like reservoir level-monitoring systems, equipment-performance systems, water-quality systems and structural-monitoring systems (Alotto, 2014, p. 325).
These applications measure water temperature, the level and the flow. They include; monitoring systems, temperature-profiling systems and monitoring system which track time and temperature data. Other than batteries, there are other energy storage systems which can be used to support these renewable energy applications. These systems include; electrical, mechanical, chemical and thermal systems.
Electrical energy storage
The energy in this form is in several ways, either as electric charge, chemical energy, nuclear energy, kinetic energy and potential energy. The electric charge is stored in capacitators, the chemical energy in accumulators, the nuclear energy in reactor, kinetic energy in mechanical systems and potential energy in compressed air (Weber, 2011, p. 1137). This energy is extracted from our natural resources example oil, gases and coals where the regions with such energy are defined. The energy lost in storage process is determined when evaluating the energy storage options.
Magnetic energy storage
These stores electrical energy by using magnetic field to store energy. This magnetic field is due to the DC current that flows through a cooled superconducting wire. These systems have four parts; controller, superconducting magnet, refrigeration system and power conditioning system. These systems are environmental friendly, efficient, have high capacity, long lifetime and low costs of operations.
The technical capability and commercial availability of these energy storage systems is represented below.
Impacts on the environment
The different energy storage systems have different impacts on the environment when used.
Electrical energy storage
The electrical storage helps the facilities of power generation to operate at more optimal levels therefore reducing the use of generating units that only run at peak times. The electricity storage also leads to integration of more renewable energy into electricity grid (Xingguo, 2013, p. 179). The stored energy through electricity can also save the additional building of power plants or infrastructure. On the other hand, electricity storage especially batteries which contain products like lead and lithium can be hazardous to the environment if not disposed properly (Lixue, 2015, p. 136). There is also wastage of electricity during the process of storage.
The magnetic energy storage releases power faster hence making the system useful to the consumers who require a high quality power output. On the other hand, only low temperatures are required by the superconducting system. The lead acid batteries contain acid which is toxic and corrosive hence may lead to explosion when the battery is overcharged. The nickel batteries are toxic as they use end-of-life-batteries. Sodium-sulfur batteries are environmental friendly because their materials are excellent hence a small risk of high temperature to be maintained in the batteries (Zafirakis, 2010). The metal-air batteries are not toxic hence their metals such as zinc need to be recycles.
Thermal energy storage
Thermal energy storage is used in the air conditioning systems and also solar heating and combining photovoltaic panels with solar heating may lead to reduction in greenhouse gases (Alotto, 2014, p. 325). The major environment issue in this system is the refrigerant used in freezing cycle
Chemical energy storage
The chemical energy storage especially hydrogen burning of the natural gas may lead to global warming and its extraction and distribution may be harmful to the landscapes (Benhadid-Dib, 2012, p. 807). Mining of coal degrade water and quality of the land and extraction of water from the coals may lead to carbon emissions. Using renewable power produces low emissions while using grid power generates more global warming pollution. Production of feedstock raises air and ecosystem issues (Bini, 2015). Nuclear power has low global warming.
Mechanical energy storage systems
The flywheel has more environmental advantages over the battery systems as they have no disposal issues. The compressed air storage is favorable in certain conditions because no energy is needed in creation of cavern (Bouman, 2013). The liquid air energy storage leads to local oxygen being enriched to the working fluid and fire or explosion may occur.
After installing the solar-PV and wind-turbines, there are several recommendations which ensure their efficient energy storage. These are discussed below;
Reducing demand for electricity
By reducing the amount of power consumed, exports are increased but the amount of electricity bought from the supplier is reduced (Jubeh, 2012, p. 85). This may be though improving the energy efficiency at home through using lighting systems which are more efficient and appliances that are high-rated. This can also be done by taking into consideration the level of insulation and airtightness.
Reducing amount of electricity, you export.
This can be done by storing the electricity which is stored in the batteries, using the excess electricity that is generated to generate heat and hot water by using standard hot water cylinder with immersion heater (Gholami, 2015, p. 326). While the PV system is still working or when the wind turbine is generating, one can use the electrical appliances daytime rather than at night. Example is the washing machines and dishwashers.
Using electrical appliances while generating electricity
With a high demand of energy, one is required to use electrical appliances like washing machines, iron, and vacuum cleaners (Exteberria, 2010, p. 532). And at that time again, devices such as laptops and mobile phones can also be charged (Bouman, 2013). One should also buy appliances with timer delay which will work without turning them on.
Energy management systems
These control the power which is generated by the micro-generator and this enables one to choose on how to consume excess electricity (Gholami, 2015, p. 326). During sunny or windy days, one can use the excess electricity to turn on some electrical appliances, heat water or house. These systems should be installed in homes because they have a monitoring system.
Using grid-connected systems
In the case of a grid-connected wind turbine or PV solar system, the batteries do not need to store electricity for a long time (Lixue, 2015, p. 136). This battery closes the gap between production of electricity and the need for electricity. Hence this leads to reduction of electricity sold and purchased back later.
The environmental aspects should always be considered no matter the magnitude of the systems. Consumers of batteries should have a knowledge of recycling of these batteries by employing a better recycling network (Lund, 2010, p. 1172). Even though the energy storage systems are environmentally inertia, there main effects are identified during construction of the systems (Alotto, 2014, p. 325). The installation of such systems should be made in more secure rooms taking into considerations the precautions and accident prevention.
Future development
Even though there has been a number of investigations of the different batteries in the past years, only the lithium-iron and nickel –hydride batteries have succeeded (Benhadid-Dib, 2012).  These two batteries are being used in the electric devices like laptops, mobile phones and tools. There are different research groups in the world which are trying to develop new battery systems and all this is because of the success of the lithium-ion batteries. These batteries include the Lithium-Sulphur and lithium-air batteries. There has been a neglected knowledge of various batteries which is now on high demand again example is the zinc electrode. Compared to alkaline or PEM technologies, the high temperature electrolysis has a very low electrical power requirement (Gholami, 2015, p. 326). On the other hand, at an appropriate temperature level there is a need for external thermal energy source. Using chemical reactions in heat storage is significant for further development and this is because they are applicable in varied temperature ranges (Bini, 2015).
The energy storage technologies can be deployed by the use of a systematic approach or through linking strands of energy system. Chemical energy storage technologies produce hydrogen through water electrolysis and they use electricity for this role (European Commission, 2013). This hydrogen is used in vehicles hence helping in the transport sector. The hydrogen can also be put in the natural gas grid hence helping in the heat sector (Reuss, 2015).  The chemical energy storage systems are also used in industrial value chains as raw materials. All these energy sectors together have significant benefits (Benhadid-Dib, 2012).
The energy storage is significant and the choice of the technology is determined by; efficiency, operational costs, response time and investment.
If global decarbonization and a transition to new energy mix are to succeed, the storage technologies are significant. To be able to prevent blackouts, the grids should be highly flexible because more electricity continues to flow from the renewable resources (Xingguo, 2013, p. 179). With this situation, the researchers are trying to provide solutions. In Germany the amount of energy storage needed to ensure stability of the grids is about 3 gigawatts which covers the next four to six years (European Commission, 2013). According to the research by Fraunhofer of Europe, the country will require around 13-50 Gigawatts of energy storage by 2030 but these figures do vary because of differing assumptions.
According to the statement given by a German researcher Karl-Josef Kuhn, ‘the storage technologies are key to both the transition and decarbonization at global level’. The researcher is the head of storage solutions innovation project. These solutions vary from pumped storage facilities to a more advanced battery-based system (Lund, 2010, p. 1172). These are used to store a water for generating electricity. In Germany, there are 9 pumped storage facilities which are able to generate electricity of about 7 GW but this is less of what will be required in the future.
These pumped storage facilities have less potential for expansion and this means that more alternative storage solutions have to be found which will be able to hold more electricity (Zafirakis, 2010). The Fluence Company in Germany offers storage platforms because it is a company for energy storage services and technologies. This company also develops new technologies example is siestorage (European Commission, 2013). This siestorage combines the lithium-ion batteries which have high performance with power electronics.  This system is able to store and release about 500 kilowatts and 1 megawatt. Some examples of the short-term storage solutions include the flywheel, capacitors and compressed air storage.
The only disadvantage of the above mentioned storage solution is that it only offers storage in minutes or hours. This enables the researchers to focus more on the storage solutions which will be able to convert the electricity into forms of energy for a long time (European Commission, 2013). Example of this is hydrogen and chemicals like methanol and ammonia. These technologies are able to convert electricity and water into chemicals through electrolysis. They have done this by coming up with a plant by the name Mainz Energy Farm which is ranged as the largest plant in the world producing up to six megawatts. On the other hand, the capacity of the plant is able to produce more hydrogen for around 2000 vehicles (Alotto, 2014, p. 325). The Siemens company is also looking at methane other than electrolysis-based hydrogen. This is because both methane and hydrogen can be accommodated in natural gas network which is later used to generate electricity. And these researchers are also converting electricity with CO2-free fuels just like methanol (Benhadid-Dib, 2012, p. 807). The other issues under research are the mechanical and thermal energy storage and also compressed air storage. According to Kuhn, to be able to make the transition to new energy mix work perfectly, a combination of storage facilities is required.
The energy storage systems according to the research above are used to store electricity. What determines an energy system is the application used, the availability of resources, the economics used and the integration in the system. At times when the demand for energy is low, we should always store it so as to use it when the demand is high. We have different types of energy storage systems and they include; electrochemical energy systems, mechanical energy systems, thermal energy storage and chemical energy storage. What we should always take into considerations the environmental aspects of these energy storage systems. We have different renewable energy applications such as solar, wind, hydropower and geothermal energies. When used, these different energy storage systems have different impacts on the environment. The recycling process of the batteries used is important. Many different investigations have been done on batteries but only the lithium-iron and nickel-hydride batteries have succeeded. 
Alotto, P., 2014. Redox flow batteries for the storage of renewable energy. Renewable and Sustainable energy reviews.29(5), pp. 325-335.
Benhadid,S., 2012. Refrigerants and their environmental impact substitution of hydro chlorofluorocarbon HFC Hydro fluorocarbon. Search for an adequate refrigerant. Energy Procedia,18(5), pp. 807-816.
Bini, M.,2015. Rechargeable Lithium Batteries:Key scientific and technological challenges. Rechargeable lithium batteries. From fundamentals to applications. Bayern: Woodhead Publishing.
Bouman, E., 2013. Life cycle assessment of compressed air energy storage(CAES),6th international conference on life cycle management-LCM 2013,August 25-28. Gothenburg,Sweden.
Chen, H., 2010. Progress in electrical energy storage system:A critical review. Progress in Natural Science,19(1), pp. 291-312.
European Commission, 2013. The future role and challenges of energy storage:European Commission.
Exteberria, A., 2010. Hybrid storage systemsfor renewabke energy sources intergration in Microgrids:A Review. International Power Electronics Conference,2010 Conference Proceedings, pp. 532-37.
Gholami, H., 2015. Electrothermal performance and environment effects of optimal photovoltaic-thermal system. Energy Conversion and Management,95(7), pp. 326-333.
Jubeh, N., 2012. Green solution for power generation by adoption of adiabetic CAES System. Applied Thermal Engineering,44(1), pp. 85-89.
Kang, D., 2013. Potential environmentaland human healtth impacts of rechargeable lithium batteries in electronic waste. Environmental Science and Technology,47(10), pp. 5495-55503.
Lixue, Z., 2015. Biomass-derived materials for electrochemical energy storages. Progress in Polymer Science,43(2), pp. 136-164.
Lund, H., 2010. The role of compressed air energy storage(CAES) in future sustainable energy systems. Energy Conversion and Management,50(20), pp. 1172-1179.
Mahlia, T., 2014. A review of available methods and development on energy storage;Technology Update. Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews,33(2), pp. 532-45.
Rand, D., 2015. Electrochemical Energy Storage for Renewable Sources and Grid Balancing. Netherlands: Elsevier.
Reuss, M., 2015. The use of borehole thermal energy storage (BTES) systems. Advances in thermal energy storage systems ,methods and applications. Bayern: Woodhead Publishing.
Weber, Z., 2011. Redox Flow Batteries. Journal of Applied Electrochemistry.41(4), pp. 1137-1164.
Xingguo, T., 2013. Advances and trends of energy storage technology in Microgrid. Electrical Power and Energy Systems,44(11), pp. 179-191.
Zafirakis, D., 2010. Overview of energy storage technologies for renewable energy systems,stand-alone and hybrid wind energy systems. Technology,energy storage and applications. Bayern: Woodhead Publishing.

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