European Energy Storage Coalition launched to accelerate grid decarbonisation
A new industry coalition launched on Thursday (4 May) aims to promote sustainable energy storage technologies that will increase the resilience of Europe’s power grid and open the door for more renewables.
The Energy Storage Coalition comprises four organisations, SolarPower Europe, The European Association for the Storage of Energy, WindEurope, and Breakthrough Energy, and it wants to shape future EU policy around storage.
As Europe looks to decarbonise its power system, energy storage technologies, like pumped hydro, batteries and hydrogen, will become ever more critical, allowing excess wind and solar power to be stored and then released when generation cannot meet demand.
“Energy storage is key to building a future-proof, resilient and decarbonised energy system,” said EU energy chief Kadri Simson at the launch.
“For many years, energy storage has been in the background of the power sector, but the fact is that energy storage and flexibility services are a self-standing sector that will transform our energy system,” she added.
“An energy system fed by renewable energies can only be successfully established if it comes with flexibility solutions,” said Simson.
Storage in the spotlight
Energy storage has come into the spotlight recently as Europe looks to decarbonise and rely more on domestic supplies, meaning there will be less dispatchable power generators, like coal and fossil gas-fired plants.
“Last winter, EU renewables generated more electricity than fossil fuels. It’s clear solar and renewables can power Europe in all seasons,” said SolarPower Europe’s chief executive Walburga Hemetsberger.
“We need strong energy infrastructure to make year-round renewables the norm. That means taking energy storage seriously and getting the grid ready,” he added.
Energy storage can also contribute to alleviating grid constraints and minimising grid extension costs, said Patrick Clerens, the secretary general of The European Association for Storage of Energy.
“It is paramount to accelerate the process of electrification – and here is where energy storage can help lower costs and contribute to further renewables’ deployment,” he added.
The Commission reckons that the need for flexibility in Europe’s power system could increase to up to 30% of total electricity demand by 2050 as the share of renewable energy on the grid reaches an estimated 69% by 2030 and 80% by 2050.
“More storage is needed to help ramp up the capacity of wind farms that can connect to the grids, especially at their weakest points. We also need to make sure that each kilowatt hour produced by wind farms can be used to its full potential and in the best way possible,” said WindEurope’s chief executive Giles Dickson.
This year, the EU has already made moves to promote these technologies. For instance, batteries and storage are listed as ‘strategic technologies’ in the recently proposed Net Zero Industry Act, unlocking further regulatory and financial support.
The Commission’s electricity market reform also obligates EU countries to assess their flexibility needs and establish indicative objectives for technologies, especially those not using fossil fuels.
Alongside this, the reform introduces more ways to support storage through capacity mechanisms, which ensure revenue for backup power suppliers, and measures to tackle regulatory barriers faced by storage projects, including double taxation and permitting issues.
The European Parliament is currently debating the reform. Two of the lawmakers negotiating this attended the launch event and, afterwards, told EURACTIV of the importance of storage.
“Energy storage is often the forgotten treasure. In the current electricity market reform, we have a great opportunity to unlock the potential of energy storage in Europe’s energy system,” said Emma Wiesner, who is negotiating for the centre Renew Europe group.
But, to achieve this, the industry needs low technical, financial and political risks, she told EURACTIV.
“Technology and investments are here. Now the industry expects political certainty and long-term perspectives,” said Wiesner, adding that, among other things, she will prioritise long-term perspectives in capacity schemes and flexibility and grid capacity assessments.
Meanwhile, Niels Fuglsang, negotiating the law for the Socialists and Democrats, told EURACTIV: “We urgently need to have more storage capacity in the European system so it will be ready to cope with the great amount of renewables that we are planning.”
To do this, the market reform needs to reward customers adding flexibility to the grid, like batteries or district heating, through the right incentives and by avoiding double charges getting in the way of storage, he said.
Kira Taylor, EurActiv.com
This article first appeared on EurActiv.com, an edie content partner