Interest in energy storage is spiking within European utilities as they look to follow the USA’s lead, say sources close to the sector. Elly Kreijkes, global director for renewable energy and energy storage at Synergy Events, who manages the European Utility Week energy storage track, says: “The reluctance we have seen before is being replaced with ‘this is the way to go’.
“Worldwide, there is a clear increase in energy storage project developments, driven by the development of smart-grid infrastructure and constant technological advancements in the energy storage industry.
“The European Commission has announced a list of more than 140 electricity projects that have been fast-tracked, and eStorage has been awarded a €13.3m grant to develop a solution for cost-effective integration of intermittent renewable energy generation.”
She adds: “Advances in next-generation pumped storage, compressed air energy storage and advanced batteries have multiplied the technology options available.”
For this year’s European Utility Week, in November, the three-day energy storage track has been massively expanded to cater for utility demand for more information around current projects, technology, applications, business cases and deployment models.
Utilities analysing energy storage
Attendees, which will include major utility and power network operators such as Electricité de France, Enel, Red Eléctrica, Duke Energy and Kepco, are aiming to analyse energy storage policy, strategy and business models in the strategic part of the conference.
In addition, the case study programme on the exhibition floor will look at current energy storage projects and upcoming innovation. The interest follows growing awareness of the results of early energy storage projects in the US.
At Duke Energy, for example, battery storage has been tapped as a way of achieving voltage stabilisation and improved output from wind power.
The utility’s Notrees Wind and Battery Storage project has supplied more than 10,000 megawatt-hours of power to the electric grid, says Jeff Gates, managing director of Duke Energy’s commercial transmission business and the lead developer on the project.
“This project has proven the technology can be deployed at commercial scale, and the flexibility and speed of response has provided tremendous benefit to the grid operator,” he points out.
Research and development to reduce costs
As previously reported in Energy Storage Report, Duke is as the forefront of energy storage research and development, with plans to reduce costs by using second-batteries and Raspberry Pi-based control systems.
But European utilities and transmission system operators are increasingly looking for a piece of the energy storage action as they, too, face growing renewable power integration challenges.
Spain’s Red Eléctrica, to take one example, is running a 1MW, 3MWh lithium-ion battery storage pilot, plus a 1.6MW flywheel project in the Canary Islands, where the local utility Endesa is working with an island council on the Gorona del Viento scheme.
“Energy storage technologies play a major role in the successful incorporation of increased levels of renewable energy into the European Union’s electricity grid,” Kreijkes observes.
“The International Energy Agency has projected that in 2050 the amount of electrical energy storage in the world will double or triple to between 189GW or 305GW.”
Utilities “defining energy storage strategies”
As a result, she says, in Europe “Many utilities have taken steps in defining their energy storage strategies or are already making use of available, commercially and technically viable storage.
“More and more utilities realise that storage presents fantastic opportunities for the customer and utility.”
Nevertheless, she adds, although the cost of storage is falling quickly, uptake of energy storage by utilities is still hampered by various challenges.
Some of the key questions European utilities are grappling with include the level at which storage should be integrated, how regulatory frameworks could be adjusted to integrate it better, and the state of play for main technologies.
There is also interest in how storage can be deployed efficiently and cost-effectively to help utilities in critical areas such as grid optimisation and stability, customer engagement, demand management and metering.
Tracking down the person responsible
Companies commercialising energy storage systems would doubtless be able to help with some of these issues, but therein lies another problem: since the field is so new, tracking down the person responsible for it within a utility can be a challenge.
A battery system vendor, for example, might need to pitch to a smart grid team in one utility, a research and development manager at another, and a strategy head at a third.
“It’s hard to find the specialist within a utility that takes care of energy storage,” confirms Kreijkes. “Within the utilities, we have managed to find the relevant specialists dealing with energy storage.
“For sure, many storage companies will be interested in meeting them. That is why a lot of energy storage companies are interested in joining the European Utility Week.
“It gives energy storage vendors a chance to meet the people who will ultimately be buying their equipment. You just don’t get that kind of audience at a standard energy storage event.”
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European Utility Week’s strategic energy storage sessions will cover debates such as:
- What are the business cases for storage and what can people learn from global experiences in this field?
- How should market designs be adapted to facilitate the development of the electricity storage infrastructure?
- How could regulatory frameworks be adjusted to better integrate storage?
- What is the outlook for economically viable energy storage?
You can also learn how energy storage technologies including batteries, pumped hydro, compressed air energy storage, flywheels and hydrogen are working in practice through more than 20 case study presentations by utilities on the exhibition floor.
Written by Jason Deign