IRENA: Planet must triple energy storage capacity by 2030

Approximately 425GW of energy storage will be needed to support the planet's transition to 45% renewable energy by 2030, according to a new report from the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA).

The Abu Dhabi-based group today (9 June), published a roadmap to building 325GW of pumped-storage hydroelec­tricity, and 150GW of battery storage.

Currently pumped hydro – pumping water uphill into large reservoirs when power is abundant and then letting it flow down again to generate power when needed – accounts for 99% of the world’s 142GW storage capacity.

The roadmap called for more pumped hydro facilities connected to central transmission grids, to help balance the variable output of renewables.

IRENA also recommended increasing the uptake of domestic-based batteries (such as Tesla’s Powerwall system), especially in areas with plenty of rooftop solar PV panels.


“Electricity storage can truly create a revolution,” said the report. “The rapid growth of renewable power generation is an important driver accelerating this development.”

The authors claimed that energy storage would be driven forward by electronics companies developing battery systems, and the continued growth of electric vehicles.

The report authors added: “Policy makers should consider the impacts of these trends now and prepare a timely response to ensure that policy frameworks are ready and business models can be deployed once these drivers converge.

The report is a part of IRENA’s REmap 2030, which aims to double the share of renewables in the energy mix to 45% in time to avert catastrophic climate change.

UK scenario

A recent report claimed that the UK could cut the cost of its own decarbonisation by £3.5bn if it could create a grid-scale electricity storage system.

The report authors criticised the UK’s current policy of paying fossil-fuel power stations to balance demand as needed.

“Electricity consumers pay three times over – pay to build renewables, pay operators to curtail or throw away potential generation when there is too much electricity, and pay to keep fossil-fuelled generation in reserve,” they said.

Video: What does energy storage mean for renewables?

Brad Allen


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