BY RICHARD HEAP:
Last week, Singapore played host to the Asia Clean Energy Summit, which included the first Annual Asia Energy Storage Conference on Thursday. The events were part of the Singapore International Energy Week, and so we have seen businesses and politicians take the chance to shout about new storage projects.
We’re going to look at a couple of them, and what they tell us about storage in Asia.
On Tuesday, Singapore’s minister for trade and industry Chan Chun Sing announced that the country’s Energy Market Authority has signed up with two corporate partners, PSA Corporation and Sembcorp Industries, to work on systems that pair storage with solar.
Energy storage in Asia
The trio are set to use the ACCESS programme – short for ACCelerating Energy Storage in Singapore – to test systems for use in both Singapore and further afield.
Ngiam Shih Chin, chief executive of EMA, said that energy storage systems could help Singapore to use solar energy more effectively, while also balancing the grid. Solar is the most appropriate renewable energy technology in Singapore, given the tiny state’s lack of land for larger renewables schemes and its large amount of free roof space.
He also said that the EMA was keen to work with other corporate partners that would be keen to install energy storage systems at their own buildings.
In addition Ong Kim Pong, regional CEO for southeast Asia at PSA International, said that ACCESS would play an important role in making Singapore’s PSA International port into becoming a “fully sustainable green maritime port”; and Sembcorp Industries group president and CEO Neil McGregor said storage was crucial to building a more sustainable country: “We are encouraged by the government’s foresight in supporting the growth of such solutions, and are ready to be a torchbearer with them in this.”
These link-ups between politicians and businesses can be highly significant in creating new markets and developing new technology, as the government backing often gives potential investors the confidence needed to put their money into pioneering projects.
Linking up with solar
The second big storage announcement in Asia last week came on Wednesday, as the South Korean government revealed it was planning to build a 2.6GW solar and wind hub on land in Saemangeum, including 100MW of battery storage. The idea for this project is still at a very early stage, and is being led by the South Korean ministry of land, infrastructure and transport’s Saemangeum Development & Investment Agency.
The idea is to use these projects to turn reclaimed land in the area of Saemangeum, which is on the coast of the Yellow Sea, into a global business hub. That’s clearly a very long way off, but both this and the ACCESS scheme show why Asia will be a vital region as energy storage systems move towards commercial maturity.
First, support from both governments and businesses shows that storage is a strategic priority, both as they seek to manage fluctuations in their own grids and as they look to develop technology that can be exported from Asia to the rest of the world.
Asia isn’t unique on that score, of course. We see plenty of activity from politicians and businesses in Europe and North America too. A couple of weeks ago, CMI Energy in Belgium inaugurated Europe’s largest energy storage pilot project, the MiRIS scheme. This is made up of a 4.2MWh storage system alongside 1.75GWh/year of solar panels.
But there is a useful precedent from the solar sector. Over the last decade, we’ve seen the emergence of a thriving solar industry in Asia, with most of the world’s solar panels now made in China and Taiwan. It makes sense that companies in Asia are looking to take a dominant position in developing and selling storage systems that complement those products. Political support for major pilot projects can only help with that.