The future’s bright (and long-lasting) for battery-storage power, says international renewable energy agency

The cost of battery storage for stationary applications could fall by up to 66 per cent by 2030, according to a new report published by the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA).

And the falling price of batteries could stimulate a 17-fold growth of installed battery storage, opening up a number of new commercial and economic opportunities, the report highlights. 

The UK is one of more than 150 nations worldwide which is a member of IRENA.

Battery electricity storage is a key technology in the world’s transition to a sustainable energy system.

Battery systems can support a wide range of services needed for the transition, from providing frequency response, reserve capacity, black-start capability and other grid services, to storing power in electric vehicles, upgrading mini-grids and supporting “self-consumption” of rooftop solar power. 

The Electricity Storage and Renewables: Costs and Markets to 2030 assessment of electricity storage in stationary applications also found that global storage capacity could triple if countries double the share of renewables in the energy system.

Like solar photovoltaic (PV) panels 10 years ago, battery electricity storage systems offer enormous deployment and cost-reduction potential, according to this study.

IRENA Director-General Adnan Amin said: “As storage technology improves and prices decline, both utility-scale and small-scale, distributed applications could grow dramatically, accelerating renewable energy deployment.

“In this dynamic, low-carbon energy environment, now is a crucial time for storage technology. This research demonstrates that the business case for renewable energy continues to strengthen, positioning it firmly as a low-cost and secure source of energy supply.”

The report also highlights that while pumped-hydro systems currently dominate total installed power storage capacity, with 96% of the installed electricity storage power globally, economies of scale and technology breakthroughs will support the accelerated development and adoption of alternative storage technologies, such as lithium-ion (Li-ion) batteries and flow batteries.

Stationary electricity storage can directly drive rapid decarbonisation in other key segments of energy use, such as in the transport sector where the viability of battery storage for electric vehicles is improving fast. At the end of 2016, the cost of Li-ion batteries had fallen by as much as 73 per cent for transport applications from 2010.

Dolf Gielen, Director of IRENA’s Bonn-based Innovation and Technology Centre, and co-author of the new report, said: “The growth of lithium-ion battery use in BPVs (battery powered vehicles) and across the transport sector over the next 10 to 15 years is an important synergy that will help drive down battery costs for stationary storage applications.

“The trend towards electrified mobility will also open up opportunities for BPVs to provide vehicle-to-grid services, helping feed a virtuous circle of renewable energy and storage integration.

“Storage technology will deliver service flexibility to the grid and electricity storage to small-scale rooftop solar applications in markets where commercial and residential electricity rates are high, and grid feed-in remuneration is declining.”

11 Oct 2017

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