General issues

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1. Why do we need to store energy?

Patterns of energy supply and consumption are changing rapidly. The main factors of this evolution are a fast increasing penetration of renewable energy sources and distributed generation, a sustained increase in fossil fuel prices, changing market regulations and stringent environmental targets. Given this scenario there is a considerable pressure on stakeholders to evolve in order to meet these new demands.

Effective energy storage can deliver a number of strategic services both on the regulated and deregulated side of the power business, addressing three major challenges:

  1. balancing demand & supply;
  2. managing transmission & distribution grids;
  3. Increasing need for energy efficiency.
2. Where is innovation most needed?

Whilst innovation in storage technologies (performance, cost, materials) is necessary in the long term, the most important area of R&D work is to demonstrate the technical feasibility of storage solutions in different renewable energy applications and their (potential) competitiveness over conventional solutions.

Energy storage is subject of shared interest among several existing European initiatives such as European Industrial Initiatives, Public Private Partnerships, the European Technology Platform Smart Grids and the European Energy Research Alliance. Europe needs however to further support ES through ad hoc policies and financial support.

For illustration and without being exhaustive, wind power generation can benefit from energy storage applications as it:

  • Improves reliability of production planning and output forecasting;
  • Optimises integration of wind generators into the medium voltage (MV) grid at their point of connection;
  • Alleviates grid disturbances in regions of high wind penetration, e.g. when generation stops abruptly; and
  • Stores massive wind energy in times of excess production, avoiding curtailment.

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