An EROI-based analysis of renewable energy farms with storage

Yashar Ghiassi-Farrokhfal, Srinivasan Keshav, Catherine Rosenberg
2014 Proceedings of the 5th international conference on Future energy systems - e-Energy '14  
Large renewable energy (RE) farms, such as wind or solar farms are usually sited in remote areas, far from the transmission grid which typically interconnects population centers. Thus, they need to be connected on expensive access lines (distribution feeders) with limited capacity. The excess of RE generation over line capacity is wasted; this is called curtailment. We study curtailment using the metric of energy return on investment (EROI), defined as the ratio of useful energy extracted from
more » ... ach unit of energy invested in creating the renewable energy generation system. Curtailment reduces EROI. It may appear that we can extract more energy from an RE farm and increase EROI by adding storage to the system, where this storage is charged during generation peaks and discharged during off-peak times. However, manufacturing the storage requires an energy investment, and, after a certain number of cycles of usage, the storage becomes non-functional. Thus, adding storage may actually decrease the EROI. In this work, we study the EROI for RE farms when used with several types of storage technologies. Unlike prior work that makes numerous simplifying assumptions, our work accounts for storage size and storage imperfections and uses actual traces of renewable power generation. We find that lithium-ion batteries increase the EROI of both wind and solar farms, unlike lead-acid batteries which generally decrease their EROI. We also show that increasing access line capacity to achieve a target EROI is much more expensive for solar farms than for wind farms.
doi:10.1145/2602044.2602064 dblp:conf/eenergy/Ghiassi-FarrokhfalKR14 fatcat:ez44zrju6bd45enqo7vfnxzwta