What's stopping integration of renewable storage and the grid?

Thursday, 02 May, 2019

What's stopping integration of renewable storage and the grid?

Robert Morgan, CEO of Energy Storage at GE Renewable Energy, says that resistance to change and people’s attitudes are the main obstacles to integration of renewable energy storage technology and the grid. Morgan says he’s confident that energy storage is an integral part of the sector’s next big step — if only industry and regulatory forces could align to spur the transition.

“Energy storage is a natural progression of the industry as society progresses through phases of fuel efficiency and environmental improvements, and now confronts ever-increasing penetration of renewables,” he said.

“We already have the control systems and software to enable more energy storage, but regulators and politicians need to help push system change. The grid is ready to accommodate energy storage technologies today,” Morgan claimed.

“What is really needed is system operators and interconnection rules to recognise that energy storage both generates electricity and demands electricity — it flows both ways. Control systems and grid software need to be updated but the wires can fundamentally handle energy storage — incumbent operators often have a resistance to change,” he said.

With regards to current energy storage trends, Morgan spoke enthusiastically about lithium-ion batteries and the growing synergy between energy storage and renewables.

“Right now, the trends in energy storage are twofold. First, electric vehicles are advancing to a scale that makes lithium-ion batteries the cheapest and most effective of the proven storage technologies at modest durations — less than six hours.

“Second, customer demand for shaped energy supply products means that we can offer wind, solar and gas technologies in combination with energy storage to create a hybrid renewable solution that meets customer needs.”

Morgan highlighted the ‘three Ds’ — decarbonisation, digitisation and decentralisation — which he said are creating key opportunities in energy storage.

“The three Ds, along with electrification of vehicles and other goods, are driving consumer behaviour and making it a necessity to ramp up volumes of renewables, as well as smaller scale projects and automation. This creates the opportunity for energy storage to enable more consumer choice, eg, ‘sun and wind when I want it’, and more localised energy system deployment and control.”

In addition to rallying behind critical system reforms, Morgan emphasised the importance for storage companies to keep abreast of industry trends, which can aid decision-making and make it easier to spot market opportunities.

Morgan will discuss these issues in his keynote presentation at the Australian Energy Storage Conference & Exhibition from 13–14 June at the International Convention Centre in Sydney. Click here for more information. 

Image courtesy of Australian Energy Storage Conference & Exhibition.

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