Keep calm and carry on – why balancing our grids is the key to reliable electrification

With electrification on the rise, our societies, industries, and homes are leaning more and more on the power of electricity. A positive trend, but nonetheless comes with its own challenges.

29th February, 2024


The increased demand for electricity, especially from fossil free sources, is putting electrical grids under significant strain, which in turn makes for a threat of blackouts, brownouts, voltage sags and other critical scenarios for power infrastructure. Aligning the growing need for electricity with these evident risks, calls for the next great task in the green transformation – understanding the importance of a balanced grid and how to maintain it.

Navigating variability

We can safely assume that the general need for electricity is steadily increasing.[1] However, the supply and demand of electricity do not share this stability. Given the unpredictable nature of renewable energy sources, the energy obtained from them is likewise inconsistent. Matching our electricity needs with when the wind blows, or the sun shines is not an optimal – or even possible – strategy. Several factors are causing great variability in a domain where prediction and stability are crucial. Imagine not being able to count on having electricity when needed, and we are suddenly in a quite critical state. So, how do we navigate these factors, and achieve steadiness amidst instability? The answer lies in balancing our grids by storing excess power and compensating when supply falls short of demand. The vital step towards making electricity not only a greener energy option, but a reliable one as well.

Strategies for balance

Over the last decades, the energy sector has undergone a great transformation, marked by great advancements in technology. One key solution is the development of battery energy storage systems (BESS). Technologies that enable the storage of excess energy generated during peak production times and its release when production is low but demand is high. This innovation not only helps in managing short-term fluctuations, but also supports the grid during longer periods of low renewable energy generation. It works as a buffer against instabilities, preventing system failures by bridging any sudden energy gaps or disruptions. Additionally, it provides grid operators with valuable time to balance supply and demand in volatile circumstances, making grids contribute to a more robust energy infrastructure.

Beyond technological advancements, consumer and company actions are inevitably another key to reaching grid balance. By using energy-efficient appliances, and shifting high-energy usage to off-peak hours, they can directly influence grid stability. These efforts not only alleviate grid pressure during peak times, but also pave the way for a more resilient energy system. Great incentives to adapt to a more efficient energy usage, but fact remains that habits are hard to change, just like our individual energy demand is tricky to predict. Luckily, there are other tactics using the best of both technology and consumer actions for finding a balanced grid.

Reaching efficiency with load shifting and peak shaving

In addition to leveling out energy imbalances, battery storage plays another pivotal role in strategies known as load shifting and peak shaving. As the names imply, these are the processes of altering and reducing the grid demand during times of its highest usage, by harnessing stored energy. Load shifting is the method of utilizing energy more cost-efficient, by allocating the usage to more optimal timeslots. Peak shaving is the practice of reducing peaks in demand altogether, by either adding or removing energy to even out the load on the grid. By leveraging local energy storage, these processes enable us to find balance between an often mismatched supply and demand. Not long ago this was dependent on fossil fuel-based energy sources to ensure predictability, but with the development of battery storage and optimization, we now have better options at hand. Solutions that foster greener energy production, reduce major energy costs and in the end make the shift for a more reliable energy set up – mitigating  the financial impact and significantly lowering the strain on our electricity infrastructure.

The balanced path forward

Achieving a balanced electrical grid in the age of renewable energy is as much of a challenge as it is an opportunity, and foremost a fundamental necessity. Through innovative strategies and new technologies, alongside proactive engagement from both consumers and industries, we are paving the way for a future where electricity is as dependable and efficient as it is environmentally friendly. Balancing our grids with the help of BESS and optimization is a critical step towards better resilience of our energy systems, and even in achieving broader environmental and economic goals. As we continue to advance in these areas, the vision of a fully sustainable and reliable energy supply becomes increasingly within reach. Making further electrification possible, one balanced step at a time.

[1] International Energy Agency, IEA, Electricity Market Report

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