The future of energy storage in Europe

The future of energy storage in Europe

At the recent staging of the Energy Storage Conference and Exhibition 2014 in Dsseldorf, Germany, more than 850 experts from politics, business and research representing 46 countries discussed the most recent worldwide developments in energy storage. At the accompanying exhibition with almost 70 stands, visitors were able to get information about the latest state-of-the-art technology and to conclude concrete business deals. The exhibitors included companies such as Siemens, Areva, FIAMM Energy Storage Solutions, SMA Solar Technology and Younicos, Hydrogenics as well as Varta Storage, RWE and E.ON. One of the highlights was the new e-car with iDrive technology presented by BMW.

In his closing speech, Prof Dr Eicke R. Weber, Chairman of the Energy Storage Program Committee, President of the German Energy Storage Association (BVES) and Director of the Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems, stated: The energy storage market is in the same situation today as photovoltaics was ten years ago; only development in the area of storage must proceed significantly faster. The storage industry, he said, must achieve in three years what photovoltaics took ten years to accomplish.

 In his keynote speech, the North Rhine-Westphalia Minister for Economics, Garrelt Duin, demanded that the general conditions and financial support for energy storage be more clearly organised and enforced. The public sector could, as a visible consumer, help to facilitate the breakthrough of energy storage technologies.

For the German visitors, the impending reform of the German Renewable Energy Sources Act (EEG) was a dominant topic. Tobias Rothacher of Germany Trade and Invest hoped that the last word had not yet been said on the matter of EEG surcharge on industrial own consumption. He is assuming that the big breakthrough for energy storage will come in two to three years, when no more feed-in subsidies are paid after the flexible cap has been reached. It is a logical step for the owners of photovoltaic plants to then purchase energy storage, in order to avoid throwing away the energy generated, explained Tobias Rothacher. He guesses that in Germany it will be possible to store approximately 3.8 TWh PV energy on an economically viable basis by 2020. That would allow for an installed battery storage capacity of more than 12 GWh.

According to Frank Wouters, Deputy Director-General of the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA), the market share of renewable energies will also increase worldwide: Without increasing costs, the share of renewable energies in the energy supply worldwide can reach 36 per cent by 2030. Within the context of the Energy Storage Conference and Exhibition 2014, IRENA held an international workshop with some 50 participants, during which promising energy storage technologies and applications that will be included in IRENA's global technology plan for energy storage were presented in detail.

Many speakers called for corresponding regulatory conditions, in order to facilitate the breakthrough of energy storage worldwide. Dr Ilja Pawel from Cellstrom GmbH/Gildemeister energy solutions, emphasised: Energy storage still has a long way to go until it is used worldwide in an economically viable manner, but we are moving in the right direction. For this, we also need the right legal framework.

Whether energy storage is economically viable is a very complex question and depends heavily on the respective local conditions, as was demonstrated by Tobias Cossen of the Deutsche Gesellschaft fr Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ), among others. During the session on Building the Global Ecosystem for Grid Storage, he reported on the example of the Philippine islands where diesel for energy production currently has to be flown in by helicopter. Here, a photovoltaic plant with energy storage pays offs very quickly, claimed Tobias Cossen.

Indeed, this new era of renewables will be driven not primarily by direct public support, but by private sector investment. It is through the establishment of bankability that renewable energy projects can attract the necessary funding to become a reality, stated Wilfried Jger, Managing Director of the VDE Testing & Certification Institute, in his opening address at the VDE Financial Dialogue Europe - another event hosted during Energy Storage 2014. Although the energy storage market is still in the early stages, there is strong momentum from the sector to overcome its hurdles. The business models for energy storage systems that we see today are not yet bankable from a non-recourse financing perspective, as pointed out by players in the financial industry. A lot of work has to be done, but we can learn from other sectors like solar photovoltaics, to avoid the same mistakes and be faster in some aspects, explained Matthias Jger, Head Risk Advisory & Services, Allianz Climate Solutions. The event attracted a full house of over 150 participants.

Source: Smart Grid News

Smart Grid Bulletin April 2018

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