Five Steps to Energy Storage
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- Jan 29, 2020 1:28 pm GMT
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There's a lot that I like about my job, but if I could single out one thing, it would be that as part of a neutral NGO I can pick up the phone and ask energy executives from across the globe about their thoughts on the energy transition and what policy or technology is making the most impact. Most recently, my colleague Pauline Blanc and I spoke with 39 energy executives from 17 countries. The topic - energy storage and what are some opportunities and obstacles to this flexibility tool. The one issue that came up in every single interview was this - yes, battery storage is renewable energy's best friend, but we need to identify all its values and be open to all storage technologies; it can a best friend to the whole system.
What did we learn? It goes without saying that affordable storage systems are a critical missing link between intermittent renewable power and 24/7 reliability. But beyond solving this salient challenge, energy storage is being increasingly considered to meet other needs such as relieving congestion or smoothing out the variations in power that occur independently of renewable-energy generation. As part of our work we identified 14 separate values for energy storage and 7 different storage technologies. Yes, 7 different technologies and they’re not different variations of lithium-ion batteries. I say this because these days energy storage is almost synonymous with lithium-ion batteries.
What we found is that while there is plenty of visionary thinking, recent progress has focused on short-duration and battery-based energy storage for efficiency gains and ancillary services; there is limited progress in developing daily, weekly and even seasonal cost-effective solutions which are indispensable for a global reliance on intermittent renewable energy sources.
Based on the interviews and the direction of those at the forefront of this technology we are exploring a set of helpful steps for energy storage developers and policymakers to consider while enabling energy storage.
STEP 1: Enable a level playing field - Clearly define how energy storage can be a resource for the energy system and remove any technology bias towards particular energy storage solutions while focusing on how energy storage can contribute to a better energy transition
STEP 2: Engage stakeholders in a conversation - Engage all relevant stakeholders to explore all potential energy storage needs and consider whether alternatives may be more suitable than energy storage
STEP 3: Capture the full potential value provided by energy storage - Provide equitable access to energy storage systems to all market services and products and explore sector coupling opportunities with industry
STEP 4: Assess and adopt enabling mechanisms that best fit to your context - Learn from & with others to identify those policies that best suit to your circumstances and ensure that there is no bias against behind-the-meter energy storage
STEP 5: Share information and promote research and development - Maintain a long-term horizon in mind and promote R&D, especially for long duration storage
The need of energy storage in the energy system is well recognized. Energy storage provides benefits through flexibility and through the possibility of better linking of various energy and economic sectors. The interviews we conducted signal that the applications and technologies which will dominate the market will depend on two things:
Whether the energy sector decides to push forward a wide range of technologies or continues to limit energy storage to battery storage, and
Energy storage is integrated as part of long-term energy policies and enabling regulatory frameworks, market incentives and support of demonstrations are provided
Energy storage is a flexibility tool for the energy system as it continues to decentralize and digitize in order to achieve decarbonization targets. Currently, the industry and the regulator are not optimizing all its values and moreover not taking full advantage of all storage technologies. We have highlighted 10 case studies from countries like Chile, Mexico, USA, Germany and Australia among others in an effort to share best practices with the industry and with the regulator.
We recently published the insights from the interviews as well as the case studies I mentioned above. You can find them here