December 10. 2023. 9:25

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EU looking to invest massively in electricity storage

The EU needs to invest heavily in electricity storage, according to the European Commission – an idea supported by Polish electricity company Tauron, which proposes creating a European energy storage bank.

In a landmark decision earlier this year, EU countries agreed to almost double the share of renewables in the Union’s energy mix, aiming for a total of 42.5% by 2030 – in comparison with 22% today.

However, the rapid shift from a fossil fuel-based economy to a renewable one will require significant infrastructure changes because, unlike fossil fuels, electricity produced from wind and solar cannot be stored on a large scale.

To keep prices under control, storing renewable electricity is therefore essential to match intermittent solar and wind electricity production with the consumption patterns of households and industry.

To address this issue, the European Commission published its recommendations for energy storage in 2020, recognising the lack of resources currently committed to ensure greater deployment of energy storage.

“It’s a hot topic in Brussels, and we want it to be a hot topic across the EU,” said Paula Pinho, director for energy security at the European Commission’s directorate-general for energy.

“We haven’t done enough in this area,” she told participants at an event on energy storage organised by Euractiv on Thursday (21 September).

The Commission’s analysis is supported by Niels Fuglsang, a Danish socialist MEP and rapporteur on the Energy Efficiency Directive in the European Parliament. “We need to invest in storage” because at the moment “we haven’t done enough”, he said at the event.

Storage figures are growing rapidly across the EU, with 2.8GW (3.3GWh) deployed in 2022 alone, contributing to a total of over 9 GWh across the bloc, the European Commission said in its recommendations.

Industry launches ‘Energy Storage Coalition’ to help decarbonise power grid

A new industry coalition launched on Thursday (4 May) aims to promote sustainable energy storage technologies that will increase the resilience of Europe’s power grid and open the door for more renewables.

An EU storage bank?

The best way forward would be to create incentives for banks to invest, said Patryk Demski, vice-president of Polish electricity producer Tauron.

The Commission could set an example by developing an energy storage bank, Demski told participants at the Euractiv event, noting that the announcement of a public bank for hydrogen “has attracted capital”.

In March last year, the EU announced the launch of a hydrogen bank, with the first projects to be funded expected in the autumn. With a reserve of €3 billion, it will use public money to launch a series of pilot projects for the production and use of hydrogen in Europe.

According to Demski, other means of reducing pressure on the energy supply, such as flexibility and efficiency in consumption, are not enough, nor is the storage of hydroelectricity. This is why the development of battery systems is essential, he added.

In other words, the need for storage will be so great that the EU will not be able to avoid funding the necessary resources, Demski argued.

“Without the development of storage, it will certainly be necessary to maintain the current means of production (gas, coal, etc.), especially in Poland,” he said.

In response to the suggestion, Commission representative Pinho showed openness to the idea. “Why not?” she said.

Demand flexibility: A key challenge for EU electricity market reform

The massive deployment of intermittent renewable energies is set to dramatically increase the need for flexibility in the electricity grid, and market players want increased focus on demand management as a source of grid optimisation.

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