Floating Battery Storage Systems are a viable solution to mitigate Hydropower related Environmental Threats

Presently, global expansion of renewable energy is one of the main objectives to trade-off between faster energy transition and mitigating the environmental challenges. There is a surge to achieve the same in hydropower plants, as they possess ecosystem and biodiversity threats. Hydropower plants modify the surrounding ecosystems, especially local ecosystems [1] by altering the flow regime downstream of the hydropower outlet, changing water quality due to interrupting and altering the flow regime, leaving bypassed river sections dry in longer periods, creating barriers for fish migration due to the establishment of dams, and imposing impacts on the terrestrial ecosystem [1-3].

To reduce and manage the burden of expansion of hydropower plants, many countries have imposed environmental regulations on their operation, which has had a major impact on the flexibility of hydropower plants [1]. Battery energy storage systems can help in increasing flexibility in the short term and meet the climate change goals by providing room for higher penetration of intermittent renewable energy generation technologies [4].

The floating battery storage system (FBSS) is one such type of battery energy storage system that has its own advantages to reduce the burden on hydropower plants from the ecosystem and biodiversity side. An interesting innovation comes in the form of a mass producible FBSS product by Wartsila, a leading Finnish company that manufactures and services power sources and other equipment in the marine and energy markets, has proposed this first-of-its-kind solution to the power grid of the Philippines to boost the reliability of electricity generation in that country [5]. Thanks to the collocation of FBSS with a hydropower plant, for example on the body of the stored water behind the dam, it does not need the land preparation, extending a new electrical network for transmitting stored electricity, and immersing wildlife and biodiversity of the local ecosystem in the water. The latter is one of the inevitable threats of the expanding hydropower installations such as pumped hydroelectric storage systems for energy storage.  

The rationale behind this idea is to work like a pumped hydroelectric storage system. FBSS works as one of the pumped hydroelectric storage systems, except with one limitation.  Floating battery storage systems can be utilized for the short-term opposite to a pumped hydroelectric storage system [6]. However, this solution overcomes environmental challenges of hydropower plants. In the second part of this article, we will explore the product and the study behind it.

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  1. Schäffer LE, Adeva-Bustos A, Bakken TH, Helseth A, Korpås M. Modelling of Environmental Constraints for Hydropower Optimization Problems–a Review. In2020 17th International Conference on the European Energy Market (EEM) (pp. 1-7). IEEE, 2020.
  2. Edenhofer O, Pichs-Madruga R, Sokona Y, Seyboth K, Matschoss P, Kadner S, Zwickel T, Eickemeier P, Hansen G, Schlömer S, von Stechow C. IPCC special report on renewable energy sources and climate change mitigation. Prepared By Working Group III of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, UK. 2011.
  3. Poff NL, Allan JD, Bain MB, Karr JR, Prestegaard KL, Richter BD, Sparks RE, Stromberg JC. The natural flow regime. BioScience; 47(11):769-84, 1997.
  4. Schäffer LE. Modelling batteries-Documentation of testing of using hydropower modules to model batteries in ProdRisk and EMPSW. 2020.
  5. https://solaredition.com/floating-battery-storage-innovative-solution-for-offshore-solar-and-wind-development/
  6. Gaudard L, Romerio F. Reprint of “The future of hydropower in Europe: Interconnecting climate, markets and policies”. Environmental Science & Policy; 43:5-14, 2014.