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Council launches new Insights Brief

24th January 2020

Press ReleaseInnovation

New Insights Brief on Energy Storage is launched

On the 23rd of January 2020, the World Energy Council launched the Innovation Insights Brief: “Five Steps to Energy Storage”. The brief contains exclusive insights covering 17 countries and based on a series of 39 interviews with key leaders from across the energy sector and was developed in collaboration with our partner, the California Independent System Operator (CAISO). This Insights Brief is the latest in a series of deep dives into the technological innovations that have become a crucial part of the global energy transition.

The Insights Brief contains exclusive information on the state of play of energy storage and showcases 10 case studies each focused on a different technology. These provide concrete examples of new developments in the energy storage space as well as useful and practical lessons learned.

Affordable storage systems are a critical missing link between intermittent renewable power and 24/7 reliability. Beyond solving this salient challenge, energy storage is being increasingly considered to meet other needs such as relieving congestion or smoothing out the variations in power that occur independently of renewable-energy generation. “Energy storage is a gamechanger and this innovation brief highlights we need new and different storage pathways to enable better lives and a healthy planet. It is time to look beyond battery technology innovation and enable new policies on storage and its roles as an energy resource, an enabler of whole systems reliability and accelerator the global energy transition”, said Dr Angela Wilkinson, Secretary General of the Council.

In response, the World Energy Council developed a five-step approach to enable energy storage and truly capture its potential as a flexibility tool. Through these steps, the Insights Brief provides generalised guidelines for energy leaders to enable energy storage. Steve Berberich, Chief Executive Officer of CAISO said “The Energy Storage Brief is an enormously powerful outline of the value of storage and the regulatory and market opportunities that need to exist for it to truly flourish. All forms of storage will play a critical role in reliably operating a decarbonized grid.”

Whilst there is plenty of visionary thinking, re­cent progress has focused on short-duration and battery-based energy storage for efficiency gains and ancillary services. There is limited progress in developing daily, weekly and even seasonal cost-effective solutions which are indispensable for a global reliance on intermittent renewable energy sources.

Currently, energy storage is often understood as and reduced to lithium-ion batteries. However, to embrace the full potential of storage for the energy transition, the entire array of available technologies must be recognised. Viable business models exist for storage, presenting credible alternatives to the short-term storage solution of batteries. These busines models face the challenge of poor integration in policy frameworks, preventing them from accessing the market in a competitive manner.

The dual challenge of policy integration and technological diversification shapes the future outlook of energy storage. Poorly integrated landscapes are likely to be dominated by sector-specific investment and applications with limited adoption, whether the technology diversity flourishes or not. On the other hand, future outlooks with significant integration of storage into long-term energy policies will most likely see the development of flexible integrated systems complementing intermitent renewables with cost-effective technologies helping to deal with seasonal variations. Battery storage also has a place in these integrated futures, with increased performance and prosumer acceptance.  

This brief marks the start of the World Energy Council's deep dive into energy storage. Working with its global network, the Council will convene interactive workshops globally to further test and push for the adoption of the five steps approach proposed in the brief.

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