Brussels Conference: The Value of Storage for the Clean Energy Transition

ENERGY STORAGE IS HOT! Owing to the intermittent nature of renewable sources, energy storage is gaining huge momentum across the globe with rapidly expanding companies, commercialisation of technologies, plummeting costs and increasing customer adoption to new technologies. These highlighting factors indicate the growing impact of the energy transition to decentralised distributed energy production, thereby attaining higher flexibility in balancing the variable demand and supply needs. With the 2020 legislations of climate and energy package, and constant innovation, energy storage is set to continue the surge of development in the global market. Based on these climate urgencies, EURELECTRIC organised a high-level conference in Brussels on the topic “The Value of Storage for the Clean Energy Transition” to explore the opportunities and challenges associated with maximising the potential of energy storage, both for the power and industry sector. The Benelux CommUnity Master’s students participated in the conference to gain extensive knowledge on the current trends and developments in terms of energy storage across Europe in particular, and the world in general. This article presents a brief summary of the event, the outcomes, and the lessons taken away from attending.


Keynote Addresses

EURELECTRIC is the voice of the electricity industry in Europe, who represents the power sector in over 30 European countries, speaking for more than 3,500 companies in power generation, distribution, and supply. The conference participants included high level professionals, including, Kristian Ruby (Secretary General of EURELECTRIC), Tudor Constantinescu (Principal Advisor to the Director General DG Energy European Commission), Julio Castro (Executive Vice President Regulation IBERDROLA) and Henrik Stiesdal (Former CTO Siemens Wind Power). The conference started with the welcome address of Kristian Ruby, who highlighted the importance of storage and considered it to be an integral part of future energy. He said, “storage is much more than batteries, there are other options of storage (hydro, thermal storage, hydrogen gas), that we should consider”. The keynote address on “Energy Storage in the EU Energy Policy” by Tudor Constantinescu inspired the attendees. He said that energy storage was neglected for a while but the trend is changing due to the introduction of more storage and renewables. He highlighted the importance of the 2030 EU target and stressed that ‘final cost of primary consumption’ is a major challenge. He added that the transport sector is the most difficult sector to accomplish carbon neutrality, therefore, a critical question is how to develop synergies and facilitate these links. One of the solutions could be Power to Gas (P2G). However, to attain decarbonisation, new market designs are required that offer fair deals to customers and promote an increase in regional cooperation. He defined storage as “deferring electricity from point of generation to point of use”. He stressed a need to incorporate Smart Energy Systems to achieve more flexibility and adaptability.

The Conference Sessions

The conference consisted of three sessions. Session I was about “the Potential of Storage for the Power, Transport and Battery Industries”. Panelists discussed the potential game-changing role energy storage can play for Europe’s energy transition. The trends presented included:

  • a significant reduction in renewable energy costs from 100 cents/kWh to less than 2 cents/kWh;
  • a 10-fold increase in terms of investment in energy storage from now until 2030 (potential of entrepreneurship);
  • battery pack costs will fall another 70 percent by 2030;
  • and more than half cars sold in 2040 will be electric.

Session II was related to the “Technology Battles – Providing Full-Scale Solutions for Europe”. Three company representatives from Wärtsilä Energy Solutions, Hydrogenics and Andritz Hydro GmbH respectively, presented their latest state of the art storage technology solutions. Panelists debated and battled it out to convince the audience that they have what it takes to provide solutions to the energy transition system challenges.

Session III was related to “Storage- the Regulatory Wish List”. Panelists discussed the key policy enablers at the European and national level. During the “Technology Battles”, key recommendations were collected and then discussed in session III. These included the level of playing field for storage solutions, right market design, non-discriminatory grid fees, promoting sector coupling and conducive R&D framework.

EURELECTRIC Conference: Benelux Community with the Secretary General of EURELECTRIC


Major Takeaways

The major takeaways from the conference were that technology is advancing faster than policies and the market is growing faster than expected. Large sectors such as the refining, fertilizer and steel industries are difficult to decarbonise; however, for large-scale energy storage, costs are lower. Despite the fact that energy storage can be a costly option, regulations have to keep up with the pace of technology advancements. There is an expectation that costs will reduce quickly, and the tipping point will be achieved in the middle of the next decade. All in all, it was an amazing learning experience to attend this conference.


By ‌Muhammad Awais

In Collaboration with The CommUnity Post

12 February 2018

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