GRID4EU shows possibilities offered by batteries in Europe
The common belief that “storage batteries would be still too expensive in most of Europe”, leading to misconceptions on the real maturity level of this technology, needs some refinements.
Before all, it seems important to highlight that the economic conclusions of most of the projects testing storage in Europe are not yet drawn. Taking the example of GRID4EU (including NICE GRID, the GRID4EU French Demo), final technical and economic results on storage batteries will only be announced during the final event of the project GRID4EU in Paris in January 2016. Currently, the Cost Benefits Analysis teams of the project GRID4EU (whose work methodology is detailed in a deliverable publicly available in the GRID4EU website) are currently still assessing the monetary and non-monetary benefits of electricity storage batteries. In this context, no definitive conclusion on economic barriers likely to hinder the rollout of this technology can be inferred with today’s results from the GRID4EU pilots.
Beyond it, the analysis of the economic viability of storage needs to go beyond the benefits directly related to the retail price of electricity. The scale of benefits offered by storage technologies seems to be regularly overlooked. What about the value of ancillary services (e.g. for frequency regulation) for example? Taking into account the benefits in their diversity would undermine the idea of a competition with other energy generators like “cheaper back-up power from gas-fired power plants” that some observers tend to have.
In a context where, due to policy objectives, power coming from renewables in the European energy mix may reach 27 percent by 2030 in the European Union, it is also the responsibility of European utilities to enable the energy transition without jeopardizing the quality of supply. For instance, the value of distributed battery storage systems implemented in the project NICE GRID to solve local grid constraints could be considered. From this perspective, a non-monetary assessment of storage technologies (also compared to other existing solutions) should be performed and valued before deciding on their potential rollout.
To sum up, announcing today that storage units are not to be deployed in a short or medium-term in Europe because of their high costs is questionable. As shown in deliverables publicly available in the GRID4EU website, experimentations in the French and Italian Demos of GRID4EU proved so far the technical feasibility of integrating storage assets in low and medium voltage grids in southern Europe and enabled European DSOs to learn lessons on the implementation & monitoring challenges of such technologies.
Keywords: NICE GRID,Storage,Batteries,French renewables power grid pilot