Electrical energy storage is often proposed as a solution for the mismatch between supply patterns of variable renewable electricity sources and electricity demand patterns. However, effectiveness and usefulness of storage may vary under different circumstances. This study provides an abstract perspective on the merits of electrical energy storage integrated with decentralized supply systems consisting of solar PV and wind power in a mesolevel, residential sector context. We used a balancing model to couple demand and supply patterns based on Dutch weather data and assess the resultant loads given various scenarios. Our model results highlight differences in storage effectiveness for solar PV and wind power, and strong diminishing-returns effects. Small storage capacities can be functional in reducing surpluses in overdimensioned supply systems and shortages in under-dimensioned supply systems. However, full elimination of imbalance requires substantial storage capacities. The overall potential of storage to mitigate imbalance of variable renewable energy is limited. Integration of storage in local supply systems may have self-sufficiency and cost-effectiveness benefits for prosumers but may have additional peak load disadvantages for grid operators. Adequate policy measures beyond current curtailment strategies are required to ensure proper distribution of benefits and responsibilities associated with variable renewable energy and storage.
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