Will Battery Technology Replace Diesel Generators In The Future?

Will Battery Technology Replace Diesel Generators In The Future?

Government incentives and declining costs of solar and wind power have accelerated the viability of energy storage. Driven by falling prices, technological progress has led to record growth in batteries that can store large amounts of energy for grid-wide systems. 

Such widespread energy storage could be the key to expanding the reach of renewable energy and accelerating the transition to a carbon-free electric grid. To redress supply-demand imbalances, advocates say, batteries could replace fossil-fuel power plants that operate for a few hours a day as energy demand rises. Adding batteries would allow a fleet of generators to run continuously and provide spinning reserves, he said.   

Deep decarbonization of the global energy system will require energy storage to store more energy over longer periods of time. As the share of variable renewable energies in the world’s electricity grid increases, new energy technologies are needed that can store electricity for long periods at a lower cost. Lithium-ion batteries (Li-ion) will play a key role in supporting the integration of renewable energy sources into the electricity grid.    

Effective energy storage must be developed for intermittent energy sources that continue to rely on fossil fuels. Li-ion batteries offer a cost-effective solution for short-term storage applications, but as longer storage hours are needed, other new technologies become more economical.    


According to Bloomberg NEF and New Energy Finance, the cost of Li-ion batteries per kWh fell by 85% between 2010 and 2018. As battery prices fall, more and more utilities are incorporating lithium-ion batteries into their systems. Currently, these batteries are mainly used to replace so-called peak plants – plants that run on natural gas and are used at peak demand.   

Researchers at Monash University developed a lithium sulfur battery that can power a smartphone for five days and surpass lithium-ion batteries. The researchers have manufactured the battery, patented it and have received interest from manufacturers. They have funded further research until 2020 and say further research into the use of cars and networks will continue.    

New battery technologies are rumoured to have a lower environmental impact than lithium-ion, lower manufacturing costs, and the potential to power a vehicle for 1,000 km or a smartphone for 5 days. Google hopes the project will send a message to the market that batteries are a mature technology for large-volume energy storage. The company hopes to show that batteries can be a viable replacement for traditional data centers as backup generators and that data centers equipped with large energy storage systems can help to balance their local power grid.   

Microsoft announced a successful test of powering a data center with racks of hydrogen fuel cells for cars the same year, and viewed the technology as a potential replacement for diesel generators. Researchers from the University of Washington are studying Microsoft’s data center to see if its battery system can be used for two purposes: backup of data center and grid service.    

The line of compact, easy-to-use charging tanks was based on a Tier 4 diesel generator, which charges the buses electrically and provides clean, reliable diesel energy to complement the bus lines with solar power. Consider diesel generators as the workhorse of angular power grids and peripheral environments. 

Diesel generators, along with their cleaner, lower carbon, natural gas-fueled cousins, are transforming the terawatt generation capacity in the world from grid applications on islands to remote mining and drilling operations to backup sites powering data centers, factories and cold stores.    

The ability of hydrogen to provide long-term storage capacity – crucial in a state that has reliability problems and an industry that relies on electricity to keep its servers running – makes it an effective solution to supplant the current practice of installing large diesel generators

Over the last decade, solar prices have fallen, as have the costs of shipping and burning diesel to generate electricity for remote locations, but the gap is widening.    

Smart hybrid, hybrid electric and diesel solutions are indispensable if we are to supply our industries with clean energy sources. We need clean diesel to cover the areas where variable renewable energy sources are at their peak and reaching their valley. 

Google and Microsoft’s efforts to develop alternative diesel generators illustrate the potential of hyperscale operators to drive change in the data center services supply chain. Texier said Google was looking for new market models that would work with the utility network in which it operates data centers. The company hopes that the Belgian pilot project will pave the way for a major transition to data centres and battery-powered universities that support a sustainable network.  


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