The European Association for Storage of Energy (EASE) is glad to extend a warm welcome to its newest member EUNICE who joined EASE in March 2019. Mr Olli Kuronen, Chief Financial Officer, accepted to discuss with us EUNICE’s expertise in energy storage and expectations from this collaboration with EASE.
EASE: Mr Olli Kuronen, thank you very much for accepting this interview. We are very happy to have EUNICE ENERGY GROUP among our members and we would like to know more about your activities in the sector. Could you summarise the most interesting insights from EUNICE ENERGY GROUP’s work for energy storage in Europe?
Mr Olli Kuronen: EUNICE ENERGY GROUP got involved in energy storage applications around 5 years ago when we participated in a public tender for scoping a hybrid renewable energy system with battery storage on a small island in Greece. Later, we became the leading private sector member in the Project TILOS consortium, a high-profile HORIZON 2020 project. TILOS is an innovative hybrid energy system that combines renewable energy, smart grid and battery storage on the Greek island of Tilos. The project placed us at the forefront of the hybrid energy system and storage applications in Europe. TILOS is now fully operational and delivers electricity to the end consumers on the island.
Now we can conclude that the experience as a developer, implementer, owner and operator obtained through TILOS helped us to gain invaluable know-how and expertise in solving regulatory/commercial challenges, as well as, combining renewable energy and storage. One concrete outcome of this is our in-house developed “S4S" energy management software that is in the core of our renewable energy hybrid system concept.
Eunice Energy Group has first-hand expertise in combining renewables and energy storage on island environments, an “Island Re-specialist” if you like. Furthermore, islands are unique and useful environments to learn from “autonomic energy islands", not only technically but also socio-economically. At the moment, we are developing other similar projects in Greece and, as we know, there are hundreds or maybe thousands of islands in Europe where the TILOS approach can be considered and applied.
EASE: We look forward to a very fruitful collaboration with you and to receive EUNICE ENERGY GROUP’s input for our Working Groups and Task Forces. What created the interest of your company to join EASE?
Mr Olli Kuronen: Sustainable energy is in the heart of our corporate DNA. We always knew that the development of energy storage technologies is crucial for the considerable increase in renewable energy in the energy systems. As we are now fully involved in the storage concepts, it was important to become a member of the leading industry association with the leading corporate members. Also, we were pleased with EASE’s dynamic approach and knowledge in promoting the energy storage industry throughout Europe. In short, EASE is a perfect platform for us to participate in industry dialogue among European companies and institutions.
EASE: What is your vision on how storage can contribute to the energy transition?
Mr Olli Kuronen: Energy storage will have an omnipotent role in the energy market. Storage technologies are developing rapidly whilst also lowering the cost of energy. I think that, just like with any other technical innovations, mankind always underestimates the speed of innovation. A good example of this is the development of battery technology in mobile phones that largely facilitated the introduction of the smartphone revolution.
For us, philosophically speaking, energy storage together with the digital revolution means sustainability, equality and freedom. Energy storage allows the employment of renewable energy in a distributed manner, ultimately leading to a prosumer environment where energy consumers will have a more equal relationship with utilities. That is why we often talk about the concept of“Green Utility” where energy market operators promote and offer solutions that can facilitate the prosumer approach, including energy savings and e-mobility. However, this is not going to happen tomorrow. Before that, it is imperative to employ energy storage in various tasks in distributions networks, so that the shift to the prosumer world is smooth.
The EU has introduced the necessary framework for this “energy revolution", so it’s time for national authorities and private sector operators to roll up their sleeves and implement it. Having said that, there are challenges ahead to develop compensation models under which various services from privately owned energy storages can be offered profitably. In this respect, we believe that EASE can play an important role as a counterparty for dialogue, even at the national level, about how various energy storage procurement schemes are introduced.