Regulatory progress for energy storage in Europe
A robust regulatory framework is needed for energy storage to reach its full potential in the European Union (EU). As part of the EU’s Clean Energy for All Europeans legislative package, the Electricity Market Design Directive (recast) will soon become law, mandating recognition by EU Member States of the role energy storage has to play in the region’s power markets. However, whether barriers to energy storage are reduced depends on how the directive will be implemented into national law.
In our article, we consider progress to date in the German, French, Greek and Dutch markets. The absence of a robust regulatory framework has been a key barrier to the adoption of energy storage on a large scale. For example, in a number of jurisdictions, stored electricity faces a double charge, levied on consumption by the storage facility, as well as on the end-consumer. Therefore, a level playing field for energy storage projects needs to be created.
Despite the challenges storage developers and operators are bringing forward developments and a number of initiatives are already stimulating national markets. For example, the Netherlands is proposing actions through the Climate Act and Climate Accord and Greece has a number of initiatives to facilitate energy self-sufficiency to non-interconnected islands.
The Electricity Market Design Directive (recast) signals an important step in the clean energy transition and may catalyse national legislative initiatives, providing impetus for regulatory change and acting as an incentive for project developers and financiers across Europe.
Technology and corporate news
A report from Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF) suggests that the global energy storage market will grow to a cumulative 942GW/2,857GWh capacity by 2040, attracting US$620bn in investment. BNEF suggests that this is due to sharply decreasing battery costs, which will make the economic case for batteries in the vehicle and electricity sectors. It is predicted that China, the US, India, Japan, Germany, France, Australia, South Korea and the UK will dominate the market with two thirds of the share by 2040. Developing countries in Africa are also likely to see rapid growth in battery storage as utilities recognize the value of combining solar, storage and diesel in remote regions, thus providing a viable alternative to grid extensions and reliance on fossil fuels.
The year 2018 was a big year for batteries, with record volumes of investment flowing into research, product development and manufacturing as prices plummeted, governments established new policies supporting energy storage and mass markets emerged for electric vehicles (EVs), as well as electrochemical energy storage. Global annual energy storage additions have already more than doubled to 9GWh and may increase by 78 per cent in 2019, according to Bloomberg New Energy Finance. In August 2018, cumulative worldwide sales of EVs passed the 4-million mark and sales were expected to surpass 5 million only just over six months later, in the first quarter of 2019, as transportation electrification quickens. Venture capital investments into battery storage start-ups also hit new highs in 2018, with 38 transactions with a combined value of US$783m taking place through the first nine months of 2018, a 40 per cent increase on the year before.
SolarEdge Technologies Inc, a photovoltaics company, acquired approximately 75 per cent of the outstanding equity shares of Kokam Co Ltd for US$88m. Headquartered in South Korea, Kokam is a provider of lithium-ion battery cells, batteries and energy storage solutions. Over time, SolarEdge intends to purchase the remaining outstanding equity shares of Kokam, eventually resulting in Kokam becoming a wholly-owned subsidiary of SolarEdge.
FreeWire Technologies, a provider of flexible power solutions, closed a US$15m Series A financing. The round was led by BP Ventures, with participation from Volvo Cars Tech Fund, Stanley Ventures, Blue Bear Capital, Oski Clean Energy Partners, Strawberry Creek Ventures, Spike Ventures, TRIREC and others. The financing will support the commercialization of FreeWire’s electric vehicle charging and mobile onsite power technologies.
Automotive manufacturer Toyota and electronics firm Panasonic have announced a joint venture (JV) in battery technology for electric vehicles, subject to regulatory approvals. The JV will be 51 per cent owned by Toyota and 49 per cent by Panasonic, however, in principle, Panasonic will be free to sell batteries to other automakers. The JV is set to cover research and development, production engineering, manufacturing, procurement and a host of other business activities related to lithium-ion, solid-state and next generation batteries.
Shell is set to acquire Sonnen, a German start-up responsible for the production of storage systems for private households and small businesses across Europe, the US and Australia. The acquisition will provide a platform for Shell to explore the potential of stationary energy storage, as well as an opportunity to be at the forefront of the development of new energy storage products.
Africa and Middle East
Kathu Solar Park in South Africa generated its first power to the national grid in November 2018. The 100MW solar and molten salt storage plant has been constructed by SENER and ACCIONA Industrial and employs parabolic trough technology to generate electricity. It is estimated that the project will save approximately six million tonnes of CO2 over the next 20 years.
The Dubai Electricity and Water Authority has entered into a Memorandum of Agreement with the GCC Interconnection Authority and the Belgian Dredging, Environmental & Marine Engineering Group to explore the possibility of building a pumped hydro storage power station in the Arabian Gulf, with a storage capacity of approximately 400MW/2,500MWh. Water will be pumped from the Gulf using solar-powered turbines, meaning that there will be only one reservoir. Although the project is unprecedented in the region, it builds on the success of the 250MW pumped-storage hydroelectric power station in Hatta, which makes use of water stored in the pre-existing Hatta Dam.
The Abu Dhabi Department of Energy has opened the world’s largest virtual battery plant to date, with a capacity of 108MW distributed over ten sites across the emirate, which is the first in the region. The project is aimed at load balancing and will help to integrate renewable energy sources to meet growing demand.
Canadian company VRB has been commissioned to begin phase one of their 40MWh flow battery project in China. The project represents the largest system using a vanadium redox flow battery for energy storage in a country that has rich natural vanadium resources. Hubei Pingfan Ruifeng New Energy Technology Ltd, the main investor in the project, believes that the combination of advanced storage technology and local resources will foster strong local economic development and begin to alleviate environmental problems.
ViZn Energy Systems Inc (ViZn) has committed to a strategic alliance with WeView Energy to pursue the China utility-scale energy storage market. ViZn considers China to be one of the largest potential markets in the world for grid scale storage.
The Armonia (Harmony) project launched by Engie EPS in Palau will feature a 45MWh lithium-ion battery to support 35MWs of solar photovoltaic energy and existing diesel fueled generation. The project aims to provide substantial cost savings to Palau, which spends 12 per cent of its GDP on fuel and related imports. The project, billed as the world’s largest microgrid, has significant ramifications for Pacific Island countries like Palau which are at the forefront of greenhouse reduction initiatives.
Project developer of the Lincoln Gap wind farm, Nexif Energy, has revealed plans to add a storage system to the 212MW energy grid in South Australia. Following a rigorous evaluation process, Fluence was chosen to supply a 10MW/10MWh battery system to integrate the output of the wind farm into the National Electricity Market. The deal was also praised for securing non-subsidized funding after the Clean Energy Finance Corporation backed the project with AU$150m debt financing.
Australia is set to trial producing hydrogen from solar and wind power via electrolysis for long-term energy storage. The Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) has committed over AU$7.5m in funding for Jemena, an Australian energy firm, to build a demonstration scale 500kW electrolyzer. Jemena’s project is set to demonstrate how existing gas pipeline technology can store excess renewable energy for weeks and months, potentially making the system more efficient than battery technology.
The Australian Renewable Energy Agency approved AU$6m of funding for the country’s first compress air storage project, adding to the AU$3m in funding received from the South Australian Government’s Renewable Energy Technology Fund. The 5MW/10MWh demonstration project will be developed by Hydrostar, a US-based developer of utility-scale energy storage facilities, which will convert the Angas Zinc Mine in South Australia into a below-ground air-storage cavern to provide load shifting, frequency regulation and grid security.
Neoen has begun construction of the largest single grid-connected energy storage system in mainland France, a 6MW/6MWh frequency balancing unit in the Azur municipality. The project, coordinated with local transmission and distribution system operators RTE and Enedis, is expected to connect to the latter’s grid by February 2020. The battery unit will be controlled remotely and can be activated in less than 30 seconds to help restore grid frequency to its reference level of 50Hz.
Volvo Buses, Göteborg Energi, Riksbyggen and Johanneberg Science Park have collaborated on a project, examining the possibilities of reusing electric bus batteries for solar energy storage units. Research is taking place at an apartment complex in Gothenburg, Sweden, where 14 lithium-ion electric bus batteries have been linked together to create a 200kWh storage pack. The battery chamber allows for the storage of energy generated from solar panels on the roofs of apartment buildings, enabling the property owner to store or sell excess solar energy. The complex, part of a wider EU urban development research project, is the latest initiative for a greener and more sustainable Gothenburg.
Finnish state-owned conglomerate Fortum has announced plans for a 5MW/6.2MWh battery energy storage system at the Forshuvud hydropower plant in Sweden, the largest battery energy storage system in the Nordic region to date. The unit, expected to cost €3m (US$3.42m), will provide frequency regulation services to help balance the local grid transmission network.
CMI Energy’s MiRIS (Micro Réseau Intégré Seraing) energy storage pilot plant located in Seraing, Belgium, is now operational. Alongside a 2MWp, 1.75GWh/yr PV system, the plant offers a 4.2MWh lithium-ion battery system and two flow battery systems and is to date the single largest industrial energy storage station in Europe. The MiRIS plant demonstrates that battery-based energy storage can produce fully dispatchable renewable energy resources when integrated with intermittent renewable energy resources, such as solar photovoltaic or wind systems.
BYD’s first grid-scale energy storage system in Poland came online in September 2018. The facility consists of a 1.26MW/2.52MWh energy storage facility, which is linked to a 1MW solar power plant. The storage system will operate in partnership with ML System SA.
In October 2018, UK Power Reserve announced plans to award the second phase of its battery-based energy storage portfolio contracts, secured in the 2016 Capacity Market auction, to energy storage technology provider Fluence. The 120MW portfolio was split into two 60MW projects, with the first phase under construction by Fluence. The additional 60MW of battery storage will also be built using Fluence’s Advancion platform. The full 120MW project is the largest contracted energy storage portfolio transaction to date. It is required to be online by winter 2020, although the entire portfolio is expected to be delivered ahead of schedule by the end of summer 2019.
EDP Renewables has begun working on the Stocare Project at a new facility for battery-based storage. Renewable energy generated from the Cobadin wind farm in Romania will be stored at the facility. Any excess energy will be used to charge the batteries, unless production is lower than expected, in which case the stored energy will be provided to customers.
Asset management firm Gresham House raised £100m on the London Stock Exchange (LSE) for investment in utility-scale energy storage systems. The net proceeds will be used to acquire a portfolio of five operational projects of a combined capacity of 70MW across Great Britain. The company also it intends to acquire other similar pipeline assets but did not comment on how its plans will be affected by raising half of what has been set out as a target prior to admission to the LSE.
Pivot Power has received permission from South Norfolk Council to install a 50 MW battery at a substation in Norwich, which is expected to be fully operational by April 2020. The £25m installation will be one of the first of 45 sites across the UK to combine 50MW batteries with rapid electric vehicle charging stations. The battery will supply 6,000 homes with stored electricity per day from a single charge. In London, Pivot Power is behind the batteries at Arsenal’s Emirates stadium, which has become the UK’s first football club to install large-scale battery energy storage, capable of powering the stadium for an entire match. To date, 2MW of capacity has been installed, which will be expanded to a total of 3MW in the third quarter of 2019. The batteries are paid for by investment manager Downing and operated by Pivot Power, with Arsenal leasing out the space, and the three sharing the cost-savings and revenues. Further information is available here.
Swiss battery technology company Innolith was launched in October 2018 to commercialize a new battery technology which uses an inorganic electrolyte. Unlike conventional lithium-ion batteries, Innolith’s are reported to deliver greater durability, to be non-flammable and to offer a longer lifetime of over 50,000 cycles. The low cost-per-cycle batteries seek to stabilize electricity grids against blackouts, support the integration of renewables and enable reliable electrical power in energy-poor countries. Production of the batteries is expected to commence with production line tests in 2019. Volume production is set to start in 2020.
Siemens’ lithium-ion battery-based solution BlueVault will be installed on Northern Drilling Ltd’s West Mira offshore drilling rig in Nova Field northwest of Bergen, Norway. It will provide for a total power of 6MW. The solution, consisting of four lithium-ion battery systems comprising 6MW in total, is expected to reduce fuel consumption and CO2 emissions by 12 and 15 per cent respectively.
AES Corporation launched its solar and battery plant on the Hawaiian island of Kauai. The 28MW plant is combined with 100MWh of battery storage, which earned it the title of world’s largest battery plant paired with solar generation. The ability to store and deliver solar power is a critical feature for battery storage in Hawaii in particular, as the island grids often struggle with an excess of power midday but have to turn to fossil-fueled plants in the evening. AES expects the plant to offset 3.7m gallons of diesel each year, making it more cost-effective than its fossil-fueled counterparts. Stakeholders are optimistic that this kind of storage plant will bring Hawaii closer to achieving its legislative mandate of 100 pe rcent renewable energy by 2045.
Macquarie Capital closed the US$100m debt financing for a battery-based energy storage project in California. Backing an existing 66MWh portfolio, the financing formed part of a 52.5MW/315MWh project and funds the construction of an additional 177MWh portfolio of behind-the-meter battery storage systems. Various large-load government, commercial and industrial sites will house the numerous energy storage systems across Los Angeles and Orange counties. Ideally, the project will be used for utility grid services, including flexible and reserve capacity, voltage management and solar integration, as well as demand management, enhanced power quality and grid stabilization.
Mexico has taken a step in line with its energy storage strategy with the installation by Arroyo Energy of a 12MW/12MWh battery at a 130MW micro-grid to serve an automotive factory facility in the city of Monterrey. The micro-grid’s main power is delivered by a 130MW power plant, comprising seven Wartsila gas engines. The battery will deliver reliability and power quality and is critical as a safeguard should any of the gas engines fail. The battery is capable of responding in milliseconds if an engine ever unexpectedly goes offline. Because the project is not connected to the national grid, the developers were able to defer the more onerous interconnection steps.
Stem Inc has partnered with Ontario Power Generation to deploy behind-the-meter energy storage systems in Ontario. The joining of Ontario’s largest electricity producer with the AI-powered energy storage provider will enable industrial manufacturers in Canada’s province of Ontario to employ onsite energy storage systems to reduce electricity costs without interrupting operations. Stem boasts the largest finance pool among its peers, with an impressive US$650m, which includes US$200m from the Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan specifically for use in the Ontario market.
BP Wind Energy has installed its first high-performance energy storage solution at a wind farm in South Dakota. The aim of the storage technology is threefold: to improve energy efficiency, to address the intermittency of wind power by storing surplus electricity to be used to meet site demand on a wind-less day and to drive the development of renewable energy. Tesla designed, manufactured and installed the 212KW/840KWh battery storage system and employed its own Powerpack battery system to store and discharge the energy when required.
Tesla plans to acquire Maxwell Technologies Inc, a manufacturer of energy storage solutions for the automotive industry. The electric vehicles and energy storage producer is to launch an all-stock exchange to purchase all of Maxwell’s common stock at US$4.75 per share. The US$218m deal is subject to clearance by shareholders, as well as approval from regulatory bodies.
Latin America and the Caribbean
Enel Generación Perú aims to install a 14MW battery energy storage system at the Ventanilla thermal plant in the Callao Province in Peru. The system will be the first high-capacity lithium-ion battery in the country and will provide frequency regulation services to the national grid.
A natural gas power plant that floats on water will be built off the coast of Santo Domingo in the Dominican Republic and be equipped with a 5MW/10MWh battery energy storage system. The floating solution is a result of a shortage of available land, while those involved said that the project would also be cheaper than comparable facilities built on land. Project developer Transcontinental Capital Corporation, a subsidiary of multinational conglomerate Seaboard, has ordered the battery energy storage system to be supplied by Fluence, along with a barge-mounted power plant from German engineering firm Siemens and Singapore’s ST Engineering.
Finnish company Wartsila announced plans to install a 6MW battery energy storage system on the Caribbean island of Bonnaire. The energy storage system allows Bonaire to increase its use of renewable energy, providing grid stability and reliability for the island. The facility will integrate all of the island’s existing power generation assets with energy storage, wind and solar power.
Brazilian wind turbine manufacturer WEG acquired Energy Storage System (ESS), the storage business of US Renewables firm Northern Power Systems, after already entering a technology partnership with it in 2013. WEG is to maintain ESS’ workers and facilities in the US, as well as the engineering team focused on the research and development of the ESS system.
Policy and regulatory news
International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA), an organization set-up to promote the adoption of renewable energy, has published a report entitled 'Power system flexibility for the energy transition', which outlines how to best accommodate the largest possible shares of variable renewable energy sources while boosting flexibility. The report includes an overview for policy-makers, outlining a variety of options to help scale up system flexibility, and details of IRENA’s FlexTool methodology alongside case studies which highlight the application of the FlexTool in practice.
Africa and the Middle East
South Africa’s state-owned utility Eskom unveiled its Distributed Battery Storage Program, which commits it to providing solar-plus-storage energy projects of 1,400MWh. Eskom published the Environmental and Social Management Framework for the program in October 2018. The project will be supported by the African Development Bank Group and the World Bank and is set to deploy storage across all of South Africa’s nine provinces. Phase 1 of the project is set to be completed in December 2019, while Phase 2 is scheduled to conclude by December 2021. Eskom also hopes increase the population’s access to energy and reduce the burden on the national grid at peak times.
The US Department of Energy, through Solar Energy Technologies, has awarded a US$2m contract to SolarReserve for research and development into concentrating solar-thermal power (CSP). SolarReserve is partnering with South Africa’s Stellenbosch University and New Mexico-based Sandia National Laboratories. The project aims to develop the next generation heliostat design optimized for CSP technology. The heliostat concentrates and focuses the sun’s energy onto a collection receiver and can account for almost 50 percent of a CSP project’s capital cost. The initiative is intended to lower the delivered cost of solar power while providing around-the-clock availability through energy storage.
Renewable energy provider Masdar is set to help the Public Utilities Corporation (PUC) in the Seychelles develop a 5MW solar photovoltaic system together with a 5MW/3.3MWh battery. The project costs a total of US$10.2m, a quarter of which is funded by PUC. The island nation’s government finances the remaining three quarters through a loan, with an interest rate of two percent, obtained from the International Renewable Energy Agency and the Abu Dhabi Fund for Development.
Turkey’s Energy Market Regulatory Authority has announced plans for a draft regulation on electricity storage, which will enable the country to increase its renewable energy resources and energy security. Turkey hopes to increase its renewable energy capacity by 20,000MW from sources such as wind and solar over the next decade. According to the regulation, energy storage will be a market operation and will be implemented in line with market rules.
In late October 2018, the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) commissioned a 30MW/30MWh grid scale battery storage system in Victoria state. The Ballarat Battery Energy Storage System is owned by Australian energy company Ausnet Services and operated by EnergyAustralia and is capable of powering more than 20,000 homes for an hour of critical peak demand before having to be recharged.
The South Australian government has introduced a new AU$100m home battery scheme, which provides households with up to AU$6,000 to install batteries at their residence. The scheme is designed to reduce the cost of energy bills for households while also decreasing the demand for energy from the South Australian electricity network to achieve lower prices for all consumers.
The combination of renewable energy and battery storage is increasingly gaining political traction as a credible rival to coal in the future of the Australian energy system. Although coal has historically been at the heart of the Australian system, as renewable generation costs fall and battery storage technology becomes more accessible, the value and suitability of the commodity has been called into question. Clean generation from renewable energy sources with batteries to plug the reliability gap and provide an on-demand service is an ever more compelling alternative.
Bill Gates and the European Commission announced plans to sign a Memorandum of Understanding on the establishment of a €100m clean energy fund – Breakthrough Energy Europe – in October 2018. The fund will provide an incentive to European companies to develop new clean energy technologies to market maturity and includes an ambition to develop ultra-low cost-solar. Although it is not yet known which technologies will benefit from the fund, both parties emphasized the importance of reducing storage costs and grid infrastructure investment.
Research firm Wood Mackenzie reported that the European energy storage market is set to become the global leader for deployment. Despite obvious policy gaps across the continent as policy-makers struggle to keep pace with developments in technology, energy storage deployments continue to grow. There is evidence that solar developers are investing in this new complementary technology area, driven by a European solar subsidy cull and tough market conditions. Additionally, major utilities also see the strategic value of flexible assets and have the balance sheets to enter into ultra-low bid auctions and accept potential unattractive returns.
The UK government has set aside up to £20m for up to three innovative storage demonstration projects. The announcement came after the publication of an update on reducing barriers to electricity storage in Great Britain, following up on actions identified in its Smart Systems and Flexibility Plan. Ongoing workstreams exist on reducing barriers to grid network connection, removing double charging for storage assets and reform of the licensing regime applicable to electricity storage. In addition, a consultation has opened seeking to clarify how electricity storage should be treated in the planning system in England, including proposals for thresholds for classification as a Nationally Significant Infrastructure Project.
France has provided Ukraine with €56,000 in funding to undertake assessments to build the country’s first energy storage facility to test methods for balancing solar and wind power stations. Ukraine’s national energy company, Ukrenergo, has partnered with the French Réseau de Transport d’Électricité and one of its subsidiaries on the pilot project and will consider three storage solutions to help stabilize the grid. These include a 200 MW in one location, 4-5 units in several locations, a decentralized system with a multitude of low-capacity blocks, or the deployment of storage devices along central motorways in Ukraine.
The state of New York, which had already set an energy storage deployment target of 1.5GW by 2025, has doubled that target to 3GW by 2030. The New York Power Authority also announced that over the next five years, it will invest US$250m in electrical grid flexibility measures. These measures would boost the adoption of wind and solar energy, while providing a variety of use cases for energy storage. The New York State Public Service Commission approved six major electric utilities to hold competitive procurements for 350MW of bulk-sited energy storage systems. The commission also authorized the New York State Energy Research and Development Agency to implement a US$310m market acceleration bridge incentive, complementing a pledge made in November 2018 to provide US$40m of investment in projects adding energy storage to commercial solar PV installations.
Massachusetts has inaugurated the Clean Peak Minimum Standard, which could become an important driver for battery storage deployment. This is a baseline minimum percentage of retail electricity sales that must be met with clean generation resources or load reductions during seasonal peak periods. Qualifying resources would generate a renewable energy certificate and, during seasonal peak hours, a clean peak certificate for each megawatt of electricity delivered to the grid. The clean peak standard has been set at zero for 2019 in order to give stakeholders a year to plan for compliance.
NV Energy, a utility in Nevada, will deploy 1,000MW of renewables, including 100MW of energy storage, by 2021 as part of its integrated resource plan. The plan entails about US$2bn of investment. Although the approved targets are lower than some had hoped, the plan would double NV Energy’s renewables deployment by 2023 and create 1,700 jobs during the construction period.
The US government’s Energy Savings Performance Contract (ESPC) lends money to federal agencies for energy efficiency projects that guarantee savings on energy costs, which are then used to pay back the loaned amount over time. Using the ESPC, Ameresco has been awarded a US$133.5m contract to make energy efficiency and reliability upgrades on 900 buildings across five military installations at Texas’ Joint Base San Antonio, which is under the jurisdiction of the US Air Force. In addition, Ameresco will build a microgrid composed of 20MW of PV and a 4MW/8MWh battery system to improve resilience at the military installations.
Trade groups representing the renewable energy industry urged the US Congress to support the Energy Storage Tax Incentive and Deployment Act (S.1868 and H.R. 4649). The proposed legislation would extend investment tax credits to energy storage projects. Under the existing law, there is ambiguity whether investment tax credits are applicable for storage projects when paired with solar or wind generation and standalone storage facilities do not currently qualify for any investment tax credits.
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