Environmental concerns over the use of fossil fuels have increased the interest in production of electric energy from renewable energy sources to provide a sustainable electricity supply. Renewable energy sources, which form the biggest part of sustainable electricity production, have an infinite potential to reduce the current dependence on fossil fuels and the evident greenhouse gas emissions (Denholm, Ela, Kirby, & Milligan, 2010). In spite of the possible production of sustainable electricity from different sources, the primary problem has been that majority of these technologies (such as solar and wind generation) are not constant and reliable sources of power. The electricity produced has to be stored; otherwise it would be wasted, which would also result in wasted time and resources. To avoid wastage of electricity , there is need for increased demand for electricity storage technologies and facilities, which could be costly. Energy storage enhances power systems and promotes consistent availability of electricity even when the sources of producing electricity are not being used (Baumann, 2012). The use of storage technologies suitable for deployment of sustainable electricity can help to mitigate this problem. Notably, energy storage systems and infrastructure can be used to store electricity when there is excess and also to provide electricity when there is a shortfall in production.
The study will provide the most suitable ways that can be used to generate sustainable electricity and how the produced electricity can be stored for future use when there is no production. Although a lot of research has been dedicated to the production of sustainable electricity, there are limited studies related to the storage of electricity generated from such sources. Such a gap in existing literature has compelled researchers to carry out the research with the intention of providing an understanding on how current available storage methods can be used to store energy for future use.
Review of Literature
It is estimated that 80 percent of the current energy is sourced from natural fossils (such as natural gas, coal and oil) (Jang, Liu, Baskaran, Imhoff & Holladay, 2010). However, increased environmental concerns coupled with energy security concerns have resulted in the production of sustainable electricity. On the other hand, the primary challenge has been on how to store such energy produced for future use when demand is high. Notably, majority of the sources of sustainable energy are not reliable in terms of producing electricity in a continuous manner and for this reason, storage is necessary (Kelly, 2010). According to Jang et al. (2010) “Electrical energy storage can also serve as reserve power to improve grid stability, for example, to avoid voltage collapse and a cascading outage or a blackout such as that which occurred August 11, 2003 in eastern Canada and the United States” (p.1). This means that electrical energy storage is very important as it minimizes outages problems such as blackouts.
The current statistics in regards to electricity storage are very disturbing. For instance, in the U.S, only 2.5% of electric generated is stored for future use. This has been necessitated by limited applications for energy storage. In Denmark which is a major producer of wind energy, only 17% of its wind energy is stored with a usage capacity of only 8-9% of the wind power produced. These statistics show that although efforts have been made to deal with the production of sustainable energy, little has been done in regards to its storage. In their conclusion, Jang et al. (2010) noted that limited research and development on advance storage technologies have been carried out and for this reason, there is need to conduct studies on ways of storing energy.
Denholm et al (2010) carried a research study to determine the role of energy storage on renewable electricity generation. The studywas quantitative and qualitative in terms of design, and was based on secondary sources of data established that renewable sources of energy (such as wind and solar) have been reliable. However, there have been concerns in regards to the reliability of energy storage. Denholm et al. (2010) noted that changes are required in the existing operational grids for suitability and storage of electricity generated from renewable sources. In spite of the economic costs involved, storage of electricity for future use is necessary and promising given the high demand for energy in the different sectors. Energy management applications encompass the process of moving power over longer timescales, and largely need unceasing discharge ratings of numerous hours or more. Some of the technologies used for these applications are: use of battery, the use of pumped hydro, the use of compressed air, and lastly the use of thermal energy storage.
There are a number of electricity storage technologies which have so far been established. Some of these methods as noted by Ecofys (2014) include mechanical, pumped hydro storage, compressed air energy storage, flywheels, electrochemical energy (batteries), high temperature batteries, chemical energy storage combustion turbine inlet cooling storage, electromagnetic, capacitors and superconducting magnetic energy storage among other mechanical storage systems. The study by Ecofys (2014) has provided an explanation on how each of this method is currently being used, in addition to the possible challenges being experienced while implementing and using these electricity storage facilities. Systems and devices for energy storage add value to the production of sustainable electricity. Examples of these include efficiency, meeting the available demand and supply, reducing wastage and promoting sustainable energy production. As part of conclusion, Ecofys (2014) noted that there is need to standardize integration of sources of renewable energy into the utility system energy management systems and research is needed on the subject.
There is a high potential in regards to the installation of solar and wind turbines to produce sustainable electricity. However, the large-scale infrastructure required to store energy for use and meet available demand has been a major problem. In spite of the drawback, storage technologies are also progressing in terms of research and development. Soshinskaya (2013) has provided some of the ways being used in the Netherlands to enable the storage of energy such as: “flow batteries, NaS (Sodium Sulfur) batteries, Ni-Cd (Nickel-Cadmium), and Electrochemical Capacitors” (Soshinskaya, 2013, p. 40). The study which was based on secondary data provided an analysis of each of these methods providing the major advantages and drawbacks associated with each of the method.
Production of sustainable energy has not been a major problem in most countries. However, the technologies for electricity storage have remained to be the major challenge. Hadjipaschalis, Poullikkas and Efthimiou (2009) have explored the current and future technologies that can be used. Some of the technologies include flywheel storage systems, conventional storage batteries and technologies, supercapacitors (or ultracapacitors) systems, hydrogen storage technologies, and pneumatic storage technologies. The cost, pros and cons of these technologies have been explored in detail.
The analyzed literature review provides a foundation for the study. It is appropriate because it shows the extent to which different methods have been used to promote the sustainable electricity production and storage. As such, the literature reviewed fits the area under study.
Research Question and sub-questions
This research will seek to answer the following main question:
- What are the most appropriate ways that can be used to enhance sustainable electricity production and storage?
- What are the most effective ways for the storage of renewable energy for future use?
- To what extent are the current sources of environmentally friendly sources of electricity sustainable?
Method and Design
Research design has been described by Iacobucci and Churchill (2010) as a plan in study which is used as a guide while collecting and analysing data. Marczyk et al. (2005) considers research design as a crucial aspect of a research study. In the current case, the researcher is to adopt exploratory research design to gather preliminary information necessary in defining the research problem and answering the research questions. For instance, through exploratory research design, major facts and information related to sustainable electricity production and storage will be provided. The use of quantitative and qualitative research methods with exploratory research design necessitates the researcher to collect reliable and valid data for analysis. This justifies De Vaus (2001) examination that “the function of a research design is to ensure that the evidence obtained enabled us to answer the initial question as unambiguously as possible” (2001). Exploratory approach has been chosen for this study because research on it is relatively limited.
A sample of 15 people will be randomly selected for this study. The research study shall make use of a purposive random sampling technique in order to collect the necessary data. A self-administered questionnaire shall be administered to the study’s subjects.
Primary data is the core element of the data collection process in this study. The survey method selected is semi-structured interview delivered in form of questionnaires. The questionnaires are designed in such a way that they capture the qualitative and quantitative questions with the aim of answering the research questions. Primary data collection has been chosen because it will assist the research in the collection of first-hand information and data. Self-administered questionnaire surveys are preferred over other data collection tools because they are cheap, give room for in-depth research and can easily be administered. In addition, they are allows anonymity, confidentiality and privacy of the participants. This shall increase the level of willingness to respond thus increasing the response rate.
Data collection will also be carried out through the use of literature studies to provide background information on sustainable energy, current methods of sustainable electricity production and production. In other words, empirical data will be collected from secondary sources. Data used in the research paper will have to be gathered from peer reviewed journals, renowned and reputable newspapers, reliable online sites, Google Scholar, published and unpublished dissertation papers, textbooks, thesis, reports and any other reliable and dependable source of data and information. The choice of secondary sources of data was based on the challenges which may be experienced while collecting first-source data. Moreover, secondary sources have readily available information and data which can easily be used for analysis. Still, other advantage for using secondary data and information was that it gave the study a wealth of knowledge with sustainable electricity production and storage. More specifically, the study is not limited to the views and opinions of a few people; diverse opinions were found in existing literature. This will enable the research study to provide comprehensive information on the subject under study.
In regards to primary data, questionnaires will be distributed to the targeted 15 participants selected and required to fill and return after a period of two weeks. After the questionnaires have been returned, the investigator will embark on feeding the collected data into computer and use MS Excel to analysis the data. Data will be presented in form of tables, charts and figures, for easy interpretation and discussion.
Below is a table which provides a timeline for the study
|April 2015||Seeking consent from the university ethical committee||1-2 weeks
|April 2015||Preparation of the questionnaire||2 weeks|
|May 2015||Seeking permission from the top management of the identified forms||2 weeks|
|May 2015||Administering the questionnaire||3-4 weeks|
|June 2015||Compiling data||1 week|
|June 2015||Data encoding and analysis||2-3 weeks|
|July 2015||Data presentation||3-4 weeks|
|August 2015||Discussion of research findings||2 weeks|
|August 2015||Conclusion and recommendations||1 week|
|August 2015||Presentation of the final project||2 – 3 weeks|
Players in the energy sector will use the results to devise the current technologies to be used for producing and storing sustainable electricity. It will also be used to show the challenges associated with current energy storage technologies and provide recommendations, which can be used in the future.
Baumann, M. J. (2012). Energy Storage Systems prospective Life Cycle orientated Analysis. Retrieved from http://www.itas.kit.edu/pub/v/2013/baum13a.pdf
Denholm, P., Ela, E., Kirby, B., Milligan, M. (2010). The role of energy storage with renewable electricity generation. 1-61. Retrieved from http://digitalscholarship.unlv.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1005&context=renew_pubs
De Vaus, D. (2001). Research Design in Social Research. SAGE, Social Science.
Ecofys (2014). Energy Storage Opportunities and Challenges. A West Coast Perspective White Paper. Retrieved from http://www.ecofys.com/files/files/ecofys-2014-energy-storage-white-paper.pdf.
Hadjipaschalis, I., Poullikkas, A., & Efthimiou, V. (2009). Overview of current and future energy storage technologies for electric power applications. Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews 13, 1513–1522
Iacobucci, D., & Churchill, G.A. (2010). Marketing research: methodological foundations, Mason, South-Western.
Kelly, D. (2010). Energy storage: Maximising Irelands wind energy potential. Master Dissertation. Dublin, Dublin Institute of Technology. Bottom of Form
Marczyk, G R, DeMatteo, D & Festinger, D. (2005). Essentials of research design and methodology, USA, John Wiley and Sons.
Soshinskaya, M. (2013). A microgrid case study of a Dutch drink water treatment plant. Master Thesis. Utrecht University Supervisor
Yang, Z., Liu, J., Baskaran, S., Imhoff, C. H., & Holladay, J. D. (2010). Enabling Renewable Energy and the Future Grid with Advanced Electricity Storage. JOM, 62(9), 14-23