Applus+ Debates Energy Storage, a Rising Technology for maximising the Integration of Renewables


    Applus+ has organised a roundtable to discuss energy storage systems crucial for decarbonisation of the electrical system, as they provide stability to the intermittency of renewable resources such as solar and wind power. The debate was moderated by Juan Cruz, journalist at Spanish newspaper El Confidencial, and featured panellists including Pablo Filgueira, Head of Operations Renewable Energy Services at Applus+; Alex Villegas, Commercial Director for Spain and Portugal at Power Electronics; María Pérez Medel, Head of Storage at Naturgy; and Luis Marquina, President of AEPIBAL.

    All the speakers agreed on the ideal scenario: a resilient electrical system in which energy storage systems play a central role, providing flexibility and stability; decarbonised, with a high penetration of renewable energy; and decentralised, where power generation installations are close to consumption points. However, there is still a long way to go. Energy storage is an emerging sector in Europe, which has a diversified energy mix and a good electrical grid, making energy storage unnecessary until now. However, the considerable increase in renewable generation recorded over recent years, especially solar and wind, makes it essential to have systems that can store the surplus to feed it into the grid during periods of high demand.

    "We are moving towards an increasingly complex electrical system that requires a combination of technologies to facilitate decarbonisation. If we want to firmly commit to renewables, storage is key to balancing the grids," Pablo pointed out. "The private sector is clear that this will happen, but they need a boost to trigger investment," he added.

    All the experts noted that there is a great appetite for investment in storage technologies, but the current electricity’s market price structure, marked by high volatility, represents a factor of uncertainty that slows down investments. This is one of the sector's biggest challenges, as storage investments are long-term (10-20 years) and require solid financial models that provide certainty in cash flows. But all the speakers cautiously pointed out that the current price structure will not be maintained in the future and that storage cannot be profitable solely through price arbitrage. It is necessary to supplement it with additional income related to other services it provides, such as capacity mechanisms and balancing services.

    At the roundtable, the panellists agreed that battery prices have dropped considerably and their performance has improved, with less degradation. However, there is still no complete understanding of their long-term behaviour due to their recent entry into the sector. The operation of batteries is complex and requires specialised software and human expertise to manage energy flows, thus their deployment represents a significant opportunity for the creation of specialised jobs.

    In both scenarios, ensuring the correct implementation and operation of storage systems is essential to provide confidence to sector players and investors. Enertis Applus+, one of the most experienced engineering and consulting firms in storage, has been operating in the US, UK, Australia and Chile, regions where storage technologies have been expanding for years. Their experience helps mitigate technical-economic risks, accurately estimate revenue flows and secure financing for these projects with maximum security.

    And which technology contributes more to decarbonising the electrical system, energy storage or green hydrogen? The experts at the roundtable are clear that the former is the hot topic in the energy sector. Pablo explained it clearly: "Batteries are already here, they are a reality; green hydrogen still needs time and a clear and homogeneous definition of what green generation is. In 10 years, we will be sitting at a table like this talking about green hydrogen, but today it is about batteries."

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