Why long-duration energy storage is here to stay

Julia Souder, CEO of the Long Duration Energy Storage (LDES) Council, tells us about the organization’s mission, and why LDES technologies will remain a vital component in the energy systems of tomorrow.

Communities around the world today are grappling with changes and challenges. We’re already seeing the impact of the climate crisis, and we need to cut carbon emissions across all sectors to be able to meet our net zero targets.

We face the biggest test of our time and to pass it, we have to develop an energy system that fully utilizes renewable sources while providing us with an affordable and secure power supply.

For this to happen, there’s a critical component which must be included – that’s long-duration energy storage. LDES technologies are integral to helping us decarbonize at the lowest cost for society.

It’s urgent that we move now and get to scale quickly, and LDES has benefits ranging from reaching global decarbonization goals and providing equity in disadvantaged communities, to offering the flexible, reliable, and secure solution to renewable energy curtailment that governments and utilities around the world are searching for.

That’s why, in 2021, the LDES Council was launched at COP26 in Glasgow. We provide guidance on this crucial topic, giving a unique voice to LDES and bringing together developers and technology providers from the four different categories in the market.

Our aim is to validate, promote, and accelerate deployment of these technologies – arming customers, project developers, manufacturers, and capital providers with the insights and data they need to embrace this enabler of the clean energy transition.

We’re a fact-based, independent organization, and we provide reports for stakeholders to use to build this marketplace. Our Net Zero Power report, published in 2021, was a groundbreaking moment for the industry, highlighting not only the acute need for LDES in society, but also just what an enormous opportunity it presents.

Since the report came out, the collective understanding of legislators, industries and consumers on the role of LDES has been growing every day – but there’s work to be done. As an example, not many people realize, but there’s an inflection point for renewable energy being integrated into the wider system.

When you introduce renewable energy into the system up to around 60%, it can more or less cope – with some grids supported by battery systems, short and long-duration energy storage. Once you exceed 60% renewables – as we know we have to – it’s LDES that becomes essential.

At a high level of renewable penetration, LDES scales up and prices come down. That’s when long-duration solutions really provide the flexibility needed to manage new streams of clean energy, allowing the system to stabilize – and balancing supply and demand.

LDES is key to our future energy systems, and we’ll see investment in these technologies increasing all the time, along with a higher rate of deployment in the years to come.

The market potential is huge. Total investment in LDES capex required by 2040, to support the realization of our net zero goals, is as much as 4 trillion USD. Our goal is to see 8 TW of LDES capacity installed worldwide during that time. If we reach those targets, we can expect $540 billion USD in cumulative cost savings.

The LDES Council’s diverse membership is growing all the time. These companies are ready to fulfill this need for long-duration storage with innovative solutions, many of which are commercially available today. Sometimes there seems to be a myth that LDES solutions are not commercially mature, and this just isn’t the case – the technology is primed to scale-up to meet our emission reduction goals over the coming decade.

What’s more, some LDES technologies out there today in the marketplace address both power and heat decarbonization. Azelio is a founding technology member of the LDES Council, and their long-duration thermal energy storage system is an example of a solution supplying combined heat and power.

Heat is an important part the renewable transition. The LDES Council published our Net Zero Heat report last year during COP27 in Sharm el-Sheikh. Heat represents our biggest energy need, and we have to consider the whole eco-system when deciding how to make improvements to the energy infrastructure. LDES plays a central role by delivering storage, heat, and electricity – all from renewable sources.

Our members offer many great long-duration technologies, and if legislators on the level of the EU and the US government do even more to promote and incentivize LDES, there is cause for optimism leading into 2040 and beyond.

It’s inspiring to see how long-duration solutions can de-risk the green transition and provide the certainty we need as we scale up our use of solar, wind and other clean sources. The LDES Council will continue to provide pathways – sharing guidance, showcasing solutions, and demonstrating strong business cases for LDES.

As countries evaluate LDES technologies, the decisions must be made in a measured and inclusive way. There are many benefits to LDES and a diversity of solutions available that range from thermal systems like Azelio’s, to chemical, electrochemical, and mechanical solutions.

We must accelerate our shift to the clean energy system of tomorrow – for industries, cities, and everyone needing reliable renewable power. LDES has arrived, and it’s not going anywhere.

Julia Souder, Brussels, May 2023

Julia Souder

Julia Souder is Chief Executive Officer of the Long Duration Energy Storage (LDES) Council. Julia has over 22 years of experience in the energy and environmental sectors. She has been a long-time advocate of clean energy, working extensively to support environmentally friendly technologies and equitable policies.

Previously Julia held senior positions at the LDES Association of California, National Resources Defense Council (NRDC), Clean Line Energy Partners, the North American Electric Reliability Corporation, the US Department of Energy (DOE), and as an entrepreneur and founder at JAS Energies LLC.

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Azelio is a Swedish cleantech company. We have developed an ingenious long duration energy storage technology, providing dispatchable electricity and usable heat for all hours of the day – with zero emissions and at a very competitive cost.

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