Property owners in Europe are increasingly turning to battery energy storage systems to reduce anxiety about potential power outages and mitigate the impact of high energy prices this winter .
Storing less expensive energy during off-peak hours as well as renewable energy from, for example, solar panels, through battery systems, is a first step towards the decentralized energy transition and an efficient way to deal with the volatility of electricity costs. It is also a solution to guard against possible cuts. Businesses can conserve enough energy to ride out a power outage and lower their bills by switching to battery power when prices are at their peak.
It sounds simple, but for most consumers it's a new way to manage energy. Doing it right requires paying close attention to how the building uses energy to understand when is the best time to charge and discharge the battery storage system.
The importance of infrastructure
Although recent, this growing interest in energy storage systems sheds light on future trends. In the future, we will all manage energy differently, not just because of cost, but also to help the power grid absorb more renewable energy and meet the demands of electrification.
As the phase-out dates for gasoline and diesel vehicles draw closer, sales of electric vehicles continue to rise. By 2030, millions of EVs will be circulating on the roads of Europe, with a strong development of charging stations in car parks equipped with shades with photovoltaic panels (all car parks over 1.500 m²).
The energy required for these vehicles must be available and the load must be managed intelligently in order to avoid peaks in demand. Energy storage systems will be an important part of the equation, as will infrastructure to support bi-directional energy flows. EVs will play a unique role both as a carrier of charge and as a reserve of energy through their batteries.
Everything as a Grid
Everything that uses or produces energy will develop a new relationship with the network in order to allow decarbonization through the electrification of uses. The one-way flow of power from generation companies will give way to a flexible system in which power is generated in many places, delivered to where it is needed and priced accordingly.
The development towards energy storage observed in Europe in recent months is part of a movement already underway, accelerated by the sudden international surge in prices.
Energy storage systems are a good investment within the framework of a strategic approach to energy transition and could ultimately make it possible to optimize energy consumption in markets that will experience very high price volatility, with, for example, future hourly rates. Along with electric vehicle charging stations and renewable energy sources such as solar panels, energy storage is a key part of the electrical infrastructure of most homes and commercial buildings in the future.
Prosumers at the heart of energy optimization
The type of installation that connects EVs to buildings, renewables and energy storage is known as sector coupling. This involves, for example, using the energy from the solar panels of a building or a car park equipped with shades with photovoltaic panels either to supply applications inside the building (including charging), or to exchange it on the electricity network in order to balance supply and demand, with software optimizing energy flows.
This innovative approach is still little known, yet it is more than likely that we will all get used to this type of decentralized energy model essential to decarbonization. In fact, a new term has been coined - the prosumer - to describe how companies, individuals will produce and consume energy and exchange it on the electrical grid.
Prosumers will need energy storage capacity to make decentralization work, either in battery storage systems or in EV batteries connecting to buildings via charging stations. These are investments that they are likely to benefit from. The power grid is going to need storage capacity to handle increasing volumes of intermittent and variable power from utility-scale wind and solar farms, and to and from prosumers.
Back to battery
All of this, however, may seem far removed from the current phenomenon of development of battery energy storage systems, which is based on understandable concerns. It's easy to see why small businesses using energy on a household scale, such as restaurants that store food in refrigerators, are among the many fearing not only skyrocketing costs, but also what could happen in the event of sudden power outages.
Battery energy storage systems provide them with some peace of mind, especially thanks to the backup power supply which guarantees the continuous operation of vital equipment and prevents them from suffering potentially costly damage in the event of a sudden loss. current or surge when power is restored.
The immediate needs are obviously great, but it's the long-term benefits of flexibility that will make energy storage investments profitable. The energy transition will lead to a large number of new energy flows. Using energy storage systems and EVs will be one of the best ways to take advantage of this.
Tribune by Christophe Bourgueil, business developer of energy transition and storage solutions at Eaton in France (LinkedIn).