Islands show how energy transition works

Island renewable energy projects with battery storage, like the Younicos Graciosa Island in the Azores project, could be the model for energy storage in Europe, says Clemens Triebel. Photo: Energy Storage Europe

Island renewable energy projects with battery storage, like the Younicos Graciosa Island in the Azores project, could be the model for energy storage in Europe, says Clemens Triebel. Photo credit: Energy Storage Europe

By Jason Deign

Islands converting power supplies from diesel to renewables could be role models for the global transition to renewable energy, according to Younicos co-founder Clemens Triebel.

“If we’re aiming for a high percentage of solar and wind energy, the expansion of renewables has to be matched with sufficient storage capacity from the start,” said Triebel in an Energy Storage Europe press release.

In contrast, said Triebel, the German electricity system is still discriminating against energy storage in favour of conventional power plants.

“We still produce power according to a 19th century paradigm which holds that energy is best produced by large generators that rotate constantly,” he commented.

“If we continue to cling to this notion, the grid will continue to be taken up by coal, gas and nuclear, blocking space for solar and wind energy more and more frequently.”

Expanding on the lessons learned

Triebel, who is now Younicos’s ‘chief visionary officer,’ is set to expand on the lessons learned from island nations at a keynote address at the Energy Storage Europe Expo and Conference, which runs from March 15 to 17 in Düsseldorf.

Triebel said Germany’s energy transition is being slowed down and made more expensive by an outdated way of thinking.

Germany’s current energy policy aim stipulates that 80% of electricity consumption be covered by renewable energies by 2050. Triebel said this will not work without storage.

At Energy Storage Europe he is expected to call on policymakers to take the goals they set themselves seriously and get the energy system into a state in which it is able to handle large amounts of renewable generation in future.

“The necessary storage capacities will not just appear overnight,” he said. “We have to start developing them today.

Development of new storage technologies

“Parallel to this, we have to drive the development of new storage technologies forward in order to be equipped for the huge amounts of renewable energy that will be generated in future.”

Younicos has pioneered the use of storage to supplant diesel with renewables with its project in Graciosa, an island in the Azores.

The centrepiece of the project is a fully automated 2.8MW battery park integrated into an intelligent energy management system developed by Younicos.

In addition, the system incorporates 4.5MW of wind and 1MW of solar power, plus intelligent inverters.

The renewable energy-powered grid will boost the island’s annual share of renewable energies, from a previous limit of 15% to up to 65%, and thus allow Gracioza to reduce its dependence on fuel imports.

The market and commercial business models

When it comes to copying this transition in more established energy markets, Triebel said the market, and commercial business models, are better suited than regulation to push the development of storage systems forward.

“As soon as the flexibility of storage systems is remunerated in line with the market, the necessary capacity will develop automatically,” he said.

As an example, companies should be rewarded for using storage systems to reduce their peak loads, therefore relieving the overall load on the grid. “We are right at the start of an exciting development here,” stated Triebel.

  • Hear more from Clemens Triebel at Energy Storage Europe, the trade fair with the world’s largest conference programme on energy storage, in Düsseldorf from 15 to 17 March. Get your ticket now.