The intermittent nature of renewable energy sources like solar and wind energy stimulates the use of centralised and decentralised energy storage systems. The sustainability of lead acid, lithium-ion and concentration gradient flow batteries, compressed air and pumped hydro energy storage (PHES) systems is investigated by conducting a multi-dimensional life cycle assessment. The environmental, economic and exergetic sustainability are assessed by calculating ReCiPe 2016 indicators, the present worth ratio and the Total Cumulative Exergy Loss, respectively. The multi-dimensional sustainability assessment did not lead to one preferred system. The PHES causes the lowest damage to human health, ecosystem diversity and resource availability and results in the lowest global warming potential. The concentration gradient flow battery system named BBS is preferred from an economic viewpoint, while the PHES is second-best. The lithium-ion battery system causes the lowest exergy losses, followed by the PHES. It is recommended to pay attention to the exergetic sustainability of technological systems as exergy losses are independent of environmental models, weighting factors, market prices, subsidies etc. More research into the specifications of the energy storage systems is needed to be able to draw firm conclusions with regard to which system is preferred.
- Decentralised energy storage
- Life cycle assessment