Information about science based innovations, solid facts to support decision-making, performance and business development for VTT’s partners, customers and anyone interested in high technology and its applications.
A magazine on science, technology and business

Kari Mäki

​​​​​​​​​

Demand for energy storage is growing rapidly

Sari Alhava | 2.11.2016

​Use of renewable energy and the electrification of transport will increase the need for energy storage. New technologies are now being developed, in a search for the best efficiency ratio.

The Finnish energy system is facing challenges. It needs to become more flexible and nimble, while fulfilling the obligations set by EU directives on the use of renewable forms of energy, the reduction of carbon dioxide emissions, and fuel consumption in traffic.

However, solar and wind energy production is not in step with demand for energy. That is why a technology is now being developed that enables energy to be stored and used when needed – say when charging an electric car, or when electricity is at its most expensive. 

– We are also seeking applications for guaranteeing a reliable power supply at national level. Some businesses and residents have traditionally had their own auxiliary power units in case of outages. In the future, such devices could also be used at regional level, to secure the power supply on a wider basis, says VTT Research Manager Kari Mäki.

 

Time for new ideas and experimentation

Energy storage based on a range of technologies is already available on the markets, the most common means being batteries. While lithium-ion batteries tend to predominate, lead-acid batteries are still used for some applications. Very large amounts of energy can be stored in water through PSH (pumped storage hydroelectricity), for example.

– We now live in an era of new ideas and experimentation, in which we are seeking the most efficient way to store large amounts of energy. In the future, it looks as though energy will be stored in gas, heat or other similar media from which it can be sourced when needed, Mäki says.

Development of batteries is ongoing, although it will take time to commercialise new technologies created in the laboratory. Plunging solar panel prices and growth in the number of electric vehicles will create demand for stored energy among both households and businesses.

 

Potential for flexibility

Energy storage can also be used to manage consumption. It can enable the optimisation of electricity consumption on a certain property in line with electricity prices: energy is accumulated from the network when it is cheapest and used during price spikes.

There are also markets for services which help to balance supply and demand, and for reserve capacity. In times of low power availability at national level, some sources of consumption could be run at a lower level by prior agreement. For example, turning the heating down momentarily in some offices or public authorities would go unnoticed, but a major resource would be obtained from several sites for redistribution.

– New models will soon be available for elasticity of demand. For example, there is commercial interest in a system which combines a large number of small electricity storage sites, connecting them to the general distribution network and solar panels. In Finland, the market and legal obstacles related to these options are being explored, Mäki explains.

 

Traffic going electric

Alongside industry, traffic is one of the most prominent sectors set to benefit from the new business models growing up around new energy storage methods. Electric buses are already on the roads in Espoo and will soon be introduced in Helsinki, Turku and Tampere.

– The key issue is the relationship between the purchase price of vehicles and battery life. When electric cars and buses enter mass production, prices will fall. And as the technology advances, battery life will improve, says Mikko Pihlatie, a Team Leader at VTT.

Pihlatie points out that VTT's role involves exploring which technologies are available on the markets and under development, and which solutions best serve which end users.

– Our focus is not on developing the manufacturing technology or materials of batteries, but on evaluating which technology is needed in a certain application and how we can make the traffic, energy or production system in question as optimal, reliable and cost-effective as possible, explains Pihlatie.

Our research focuses include mobile applications for electric cars, buses, heavy vehicles and construction machines on the one hand, and energy storage facilities ranging from back-up power supply solutions to local energy production on the other. Applications are also being developed for marine traffic.

 

Teraloop will revolutionise the global energy storage system

The Finnish company Teraloop Ltd has been exploring a technology for storing huge amounts of energy, based on a kinetic-mechanical solution. Due to the major limitations of other energy storage technologies, Teraloop's solution could generate added value in the production of renewable energy.

In a nutshell, this is a solution for storing electricity in a large mass moving around in a toroid-shaped tube. The kinetic energy obtained in this way can be converted into electricity very quickly.

VTT's task has been to sketch out the technical potential and feasibility of this energy storage project. The ability to combine technical skills from a number of fields is required in the related technical R&D.

– Since this concerns a Finnish invention and company, Teraloop chose VTT as a partner to support the project's interdisciplinary research. VTT has a strong track record in the required fields of technology – the kind of expertise needed to create the concept. VTT's strong team is helping us to create a product which the world is waiting for, says Ted Ridgway Watt, the CEO of Teraloop.

Among other results, VTT has developed potential solutions for the structure and physics of the new idea and has analysed the efficiency of the storage method. VTT's current tasks involve exploring the physical concepts and phenomena, and designing the mechanical components and prototypes. 

– This is both a challenging and interesting research area, involving the development and construction of a multi-physical simulation environment for research purposes. Teraloop's technology has posed some interesting challenges, which we are attempting to overcome alongside their R&D people, says Johannes Hyrynen, a Director of Research Area at VTT.

Teraloop aims to break into the global markets with fully developed products by around 2020.

Read more: http://www.teraloop.com​

 

 

VTT Impulsehttps://www.vttresearch.com/ImpulseVTT Impulse
Clearing the way for new materials with ChemSheet technologyhttps://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/Clearing-the-way-for-new-materials-with-ChemSheet-technology.aspxClearing the way for new materials with ChemSheet technology
LEO brings intelligence to cylindershttps://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/LEO-brings-intelligence-to-cylinders.aspxLEO brings intelligence to cylinders
The energy sector is jointly preparing for cyber threatshttps://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/The-energy-sector-is-jointly-preparing-for-cyber-threats.aspxThe energy sector is jointly preparing for cyber threats
World in 2030 - answers to tomorrow’s questionshttps://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/World-in-2030-answers-to-tomorrows-questions.aspxWorld in 2030 - answers to tomorrow’s questions
Impulse 1/2018https://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/Impulse-1-2018.aspxImpulse 1/2018
Finnish fuel cell technology aims for the worldhttps://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/Finnish-fuel-cell-technology-aims-for-the-world.aspxFinnish fuel cell technology aims for the world
Taking the bioeconomy to a new level through digitalisationhttps://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/Taking-the-bioeconomy-to-a-new-level-through-digitalisation.aspxTaking the bioeconomy to a new level through digitalisation
Pekka Soini’s Business Finland is an "internationalisation channel" for companieshttps://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/Pekka-Soini’s-Business-Finland-is-an-internationalisation-channel-for-companies.aspxPekka Soini’s Business Finland is an "internationalisation channel" for companies
Salofa creates rapid tests for monitoring health and the environmenthttps://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/Salofa-creates-rapid-tests-for-monitoring-health-and-the-environment.aspxSalofa creates rapid tests for monitoring health and the environment
Using nuclear power to mitigate climate changehttps://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/Using-nuclear-power-to-mitigate-climate-change.aspxUsing nuclear power to mitigate climate change
Could smartglasses replace smartphones? VTT spin-off Dispelix to commercialise a virtual display for glasseshttps://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/Could-smartglasses-replace-smartphones-VTT-spin-off-Dispelix-to-commercialise-a-virtual-display-for-glasses.aspxCould smartglasses replace smartphones? VTT spin-off Dispelix to commercialise a virtual display for glasses
Energy solutions and the 2050 goalshttps://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/Energy-solutions-and-the-2050-goals.aspxEnergy solutions and the 2050 goals
S Group believes in a multi-channel modelhttps://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/S-Group-believes-in-a-multi-channel-model.aspxS Group believes in a multi-channel model
Minister of Energy would like to expand emissions tradinghttps://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/Minister-of-Energy-would-like-to-expand-emissions-trading.aspxMinister of Energy would like to expand emissions trading
Finland on its way towards low-carbon year 2050https://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/Finland-on-its-way-towards-low-carbon-year-2050.aspxFinland on its way towards low-carbon year 2050
More speed to network services with 5Ghttps://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/More-speed-to-network-services-with-5G.aspxMore speed to network services with 5G
Digitalisation of the shipping industry requires cutting-edge researchhttps://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/Digitalisation-of-the-shipping-industry-requires-cutting-edge-research.aspxDigitalisation of the shipping industry requires cutting-edge research
A better world based on positive energyhttps://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/A-better-world-based-on-positive-energy.aspxA better world based on positive energy
Business angel speaks out: Growth from the international arenahttps://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/Business-angel-speaks-out-Growth-from-the-international-arena.aspxBusiness angel speaks out: Growth from the international arena
Plasma treatment spurs material developmenthttps://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/Plasma-treatment-spurs-material-development.aspxPlasma treatment spurs material development
Comfy but energy efficient homeshttps://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/Comfy-but-energy-efficient-homes.aspxComfy but energy efficient homes
An export product tougher than nailshttps://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/An-export-product-tougher-than-nails.aspxAn export product tougher than nails
From a fishing port to a model district for smart energyhttps://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/From-a-fishing-port-to-a-model-district-for-smart-energy.aspxFrom a fishing port to a model district for smart energy
Robotics – technology with multi-faceted potentialhttps://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/Robotics-technology-with-multi-faceted-potential.aspxRobotics – technology with multi-faceted potential
Pilot plants forge innovative ideas into business activitieshttps://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/Pilot-plants-forge-innovative-ideas-into-business-activities.aspxPilot plants forge innovative ideas into business activities
X-ray imaging to new heightshttps://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/X-ray-imaging-to-new-heights.aspxX-ray imaging to new heights
LED foils can be bent into any shapehttps://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/LED-foils-can-be-bent-into-any-shape.aspxLED foils can be bent into any shape
Miniaturising devices to fit on your palmhttps://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/Miniaturising-devices-to-fit-on-your-palm.aspxMiniaturising devices to fit on your palm
Impulse 2/2015https://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/Impulse-2-2015.aspxImpulse 2/2015
Impulse 2/2017https://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/Impulse-2-2017.aspxImpulse 2/2017
It is the duty of entrepreneurs to seek growthhttps://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/It-is-the-duty-of-entrepreneurs-to-seek-growth.aspxIt is the duty of entrepreneurs to seek growth
Passion spurs researchhttps://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/passion-spurs-research.aspxPassion spurs research
Multifunctional polysaccharides open up new opportunities for the food processing industryhttps://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/Multifunctional-polysaccharides-open-up-new-opportunities-for-the-food-processing-industry.aspxMultifunctional polysaccharides open up new opportunities for the food processing industry
Autonomous systems are proliferating rapidly in industryhttps://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/Autonomous-systems-are-proliferating-rapidly-in-industry.aspxAutonomous systems are proliferating rapidly in industry
Controlling friction and greenhouse emissions by digitalising materialshttps://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/Controlling-friction-and-greenhouse-emissions-by-digitalising-materials.aspxControlling friction and greenhouse emissions by digitalising materials
Three-dimensional virtual reality and augmented reality – Towards new worldshttps://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/Three-dimensional-virtual-reality-and-augmented-reality-Towards-new-worlds.aspxThree-dimensional virtual reality and augmented reality – Towards new worlds
Pervious pavements – new solutions to prevent urban floodinghttps://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/Pervious-pavements-new-solutions-to-prevent-urban-flooding.aspxPervious pavements – new solutions to prevent urban flooding
Finland’s old nuclear research reactor to be decommissioned – New Centre for Nuclear Safety under constructionhttps://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/Finlands-old-nuclear-research-reactor-to-be-decommissioned-new-centre-for-nuclear-safety-under-construction.aspxFinland’s old nuclear research reactor to be decommissioned – New Centre for Nuclear Safety under construction
New power for the electronics industryhttps://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/New-power-for-the-electronics-industry.aspxNew power for the electronics industry
Sensor of tomorrowhttps://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/Sensor-of-tomorrow.aspxSensor of tomorrow
VTT’s spin-off GrainSense puts a laboratory in farmers’ handshttps://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/VTTs-spin-off-GrainSense-puts-a-laboratory-in-farmers-hands.aspxVTT’s spin-off GrainSense puts a laboratory in farmers’ hands
Why do so many women feel chilly indoorshttps://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/Why-do-so-many-women-feel-chilly-indoors.aspxWhy do so many women feel chilly indoors
Demand for energy storage is growing rapidlyhttps://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/Demand-for-energy-storage-is-growing-rapidly.aspxDemand for energy storage is growing rapidly
Cleaner city traffic with wood-based dieselhttps://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/Cleaner-city-traffic-with-wood-based-diesel.aspxCleaner city traffic with wood-based diesel
Raw material for fuels, chemicals and food from atmospheric carbon dioxidehttps://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/Raw-material-for-fuels-chemicals-and-food-from-atmospheric-carbon-dioxide.aspxRaw material for fuels, chemicals and food from atmospheric carbon dioxide
The new agenda enhances the use of research infrastructurehttps://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/The-new-agenda-enhances-the-use-of-research-infrastructure.aspxThe new agenda enhances the use of research infrastructure
The rise of robotic carshttps://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/The-rise-of-robotic-cars.aspxThe rise of robotic cars
Brazil paves the way for bioenergyhttps://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/Brazil-paves-the-way-for-bioenergy.aspxBrazil paves the way for bioenergy
Jari Gustafsson: Old and new workhorses as recession beatershttps://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/Old-and-new-workhorses-as-recession-beaters.aspxJari Gustafsson: Old and new workhorses as recession beaters