12 takeaways from EASE global conference

By BEN COOK

  • Investment in storage to double this year
  • US is ‘most exciting opportunity globally’ for storage investors
  • Storage companies need to scale-up quickly or ‘you’re dead’

By how much will storage investment increase this year? Which region of the world offers the biggest opportunity for storage investors? And could the V2X [vehicle-to-everything] sector offer benefits for energy grids?

These were among the questions asked, and the issues debated, at the Energy Storage Global Conference – organised by the European Association for Storage of Energy (EASE) – in Brussels this week.

A total of 500 industry delegates descended on the Hotel Le Plaza in Brussels’ Boulevard Adolphe Max to exchange views on the key issues faced by the energy storage sector.

Energy Storage Report brings you a quick rundown of 12 of the key takeaways from the event:

  1. Investment in storage is set to double this year

Despite highlighting investors’ “limited appetite for very risky projects” as well as stressing that the types of financing available depends on the predictability of revenue streams, Manuel Baritaud, senior energy economist at the European Investment Bank asserted that storage investment would “double this year”.

  1. Storage industry now has an opportunity to boost deployment given Europe’s energy security worries

Talk in the conference hall highlighted how energy security has rocketed up the list of priorities given Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and the resulting concerns about gas supplies. Baritaud told delegates: “Energy security is back on the agenda and this is an opportunity for storage”.

  1. Long duration energy storage can help to tackle Europe’s energy crisis

Philipp Offenberg, senior manager Europe at Breakthrough Energy, said that while it was good to have competition in the storage market – and that ultimately the consumer will “decide which is the best solution” – long duration energy storage (that is, eight hours plus) has the ability to ease Europe’s energy-related woes.

  1. Energy storage has an important role to play in reducing renewable energy curtailment

Chris Matson of LCP Delta told the conference that a study had concluded that there had been 7.6TWh of wind curtailment in the UK over a two-and-a-half year period and that constraint costs could reach £3 billion by the end of the decade.

  1. US represents the ‘biggest opportunity’ for storage investors

Jason Burwen, vice president of energy storage at the American Clean Power Association, was bullish about the US storage market, declaring it to be the “most exciting opportunity for storage globally”. That said, he did concede that there were three significant constraints on the pace of deployment, namely supply chain problems, transmission interconnection issues and local permitting-related obstacles.

  1. There is huge potential, particularly in the US market, for alternative forms of storage 

Burwen had a reassuring message for purveyors of non-mainstream types of storage technology, stating that there was an “enormous opportunity for non-lithium and non-battery technologies” in the US.

  1. Grid connection issues presenting obstacle for utility-scale batteries in Australia 

Kane Thornton, chief executive of the Clean Energy Council, was invited to give the conference a perspective on the Australian storage market via video link. He said grid connection for utility scale batteries was a particular challenge.

  1. Energy price volatility could work in the storage market’s favour

Conference delegates were keen to hear opinions on how energy price volatility would impact on the market, Burwen’s view was that storage can “take advantage”.

  1. Storage companies need to scale up, and quickly, otherwise the future is bleak

The message was clear to storage companies – now is the time to scale up because, if you don’t have a significant footprint in two or three years’ time, “you’re dead”.

  1. The industry needs lithium-ion phosphate factories and it needs them now

Lithium-ion battery companies are looking to transition to lithium-ion phosphate and there is a big demand for more lithium-ion phosphate factories, particularly in the US.

  1. V2X could offer significant benefit to grids

Grids could benefit from the V2X [vehicle to everything] sector, however there needs to be careful consideration given to the development of a suitable business model for this industry.

  1. Storage will be vital in ensuring the renewables industry meets its objectives

The energy transition – that is the global energy sector’s shift from fossil-based energy to renewable energy sources like wind and solar – cannot happen without storage. “Renewables alone will not work”, said EASE secretary-general Patrick Clerens in his summary of the first day of the conference, which had focussed on policy.

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