Energy storage takes a hold in Italy

Energy storage in Italy is a growing market, with grid operator Terna working on various pilot projects.

There is a growing market for energy storage in Italy, with grid operator Terna working on various pilot projects. Photo credit: Terna SpA

Italy is starting to wake up to the potential of energy storage as a means to integrate renewable resources. The country needs energy storage: public incentives to subsidise photovoltaic systems have led to around 17.6GW of installations, which have caused challenges for the network.

This has prompted the electricity transmission grid operator, Terna, to consider implementing energy storage to handle the surges and relieve network congestion. It is working on six pilot projects with a rated capacity of 6MW and 40MWh, and two of 15MW.

In addition to these pilot plants, the company’s Terna Plus subsidiary, which is responsible for new business development in Italy and abroad, is looking to commercialise energy storage alongside other emerging technologies such as renewables and smart grid systems.

Terna Plus’s much-trumpeted launch in 2012 ruffled feathers within Italy as observers questioned whether the energy distributor should be granted to ability to sell power, too. But Terna is proving a powerful ally for energy storage, at least.

Terna investments in energy storage

In 2013, the company invested €31m in energy storage projects and its chief executive, Flavio Cattaneo, has stated this level will grow to €120m in 2014. Meanwhile, two energy storage projects of 24MW, in the region of Campania, have been authorised by the Ministry of Economic Development and the Ministry of Environment, with a public tender being won by NGK of Japan.

Projects of about 11MW in Foggia and 8MW and 16MW in Sardinia and Sicily should be approved within days. For the latter project, in addition to 3MW of batteries and 3MW of another, as yet unspecified technology, Terna is expected to deploy 10MW of lithium-ion batteries supplied by BYD of Shenzhen, China, and integrated by Saet of Italy, in a deal worth €3m.

Other energy storage vendors active in the market include Samsung, Younicos, Toshiba, Saft, Siemens, FIAMM, Nidec ASI and GE.

Domestic energy storage regulations

In terms of domestic energy storage, Italy ended the year with new rules laid down by the Regulatory Authority for Electricity and Gas (Autorità per l’energia elettrica il gas ed il sistema idrico, or AEEG in Italian). Under the AEEG’s 613/2013/R/eel proposal document, batteries must be considered as production facilities.

The document also sets clear boundaries between domestic storage systems and Terna’s systems, which are excluded by the decree. So it looks as though 2014 will see energy storage systems being talked about a lot in Italy.

But it remains to be seen whether the moves taking place will be enough to kick-start a new industrial approach to distributed generation… and help Italy play a more prominent role in global energy markets, too.

Written by Agnese Cecchini, editorial director at Gruppo Italia Energia

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