Hydrogen is the better technology for energy storage.
The energy system’s storage requirements vary and, as such, a range of solutions are likely to be required.
Some of the key differences between storage technologies are the time for which energy can be stored, how much energy can be stored, and how fast that energy can be released. For some applications, battery technologies provide the best approach, especially when power is required quickly, such as when responding to an unexpected outage on the grid . However, batteries are not cost-effective for storing large amounts of energy over long periods. Here, technologies like pumped hydro or reservoir storage shine, allowing large amounts of energy to be stored over long periods at little marginal cost. In Norway, for example, reservoir storage represents about 70% of annual consumption, making energy available even when precipitation levels are low.
In some situations, the need for storage can be removed altogether by retiming demand, for example by charging EVs when supply is available, or increasing interconnection, such that energy can be moved somewhere that it can be used immediately.
Hydrogen also has some natural applications. It may form a critical role, for example, in allowing us to usefully store excess renewable generation when renewable output is high and cheaper alternatives for long-term storage are unavailable. In this way, the use of hydrogen for storage may well be an important element of an overall electrification strategy. However, it currently represents only a tiny portion of hydrogen production and the provision a meaningful contribution to storage requirements is at least a decade away.
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Ministry of Petroleum and Energy, “Electricity Production - Energifakta Norge,” accessed May 4, 2020, https://energifaktanorge.no/en/norsk-energiforsyning/kraftproduksjon/.
Wood Mackenzie, “Green Hydrogen: A Pillar Of Decarbonization?,” Forbes, January 31, 2020, https://www.forbes.com/sites/woodmackenzie/2020/01/31/green-hydrogen-a-pillar-of-decarbonization/.
World Energy Council, “E-Storage: Shifting from Cost to Value Wind and Solar Applications,” 2016, www.worldenergy.org