Short-run impact of electricity storage on CO2 emissions in power systems with high penetrations of wind power: a case-study of Ireland

This article studies the impact on CO2 emissions of electrical storage systems in power systems with high penetrations of wind generation. Using the Irish All-Island power system as a case-study, data on the observed dispatch of each large generator for the years 2008 to 2012 was used to estimate a marginal emissions factor of 0.547 kgCO2/kWh. Selected storage operation scenarios were used to estimate storage emissions factors – the carbon emissions impact associated with each unit of storage energy used. The results show that carbon emissions increase in the short-run for all storage technologies when consistently operated in ‘peak shaving and trough filling’ modes, and indicate that this should also be true for the GB and US power systems. Carbon emissions increase when storage is operated in ‘wind balancing’ mode, but reduce when storage is operated to reduce wind power curtailment, as in this case wind power operates on the margin. For power systems where wind is curtailed to maintain system stability, the results show that energy storage technologies that provide synthetic inertia achieve considerably greater carbon reductions. The results highlight a tension for policy makers and investors in storage, as scenarios based on the operation of storage for economic gains increase emissions, while those that decrease emissions are unlikely to be economically favourable. While some scenarios indicate storage increases emissions in the short-run, these should be considered alongside long-run assessments, which indicate that energy storage is essential to the secure operation of a fossil fuel-free grid.