Harnessing the opportunities in electricity storage and battery vehicles: GPEX webinar review
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The first GPEX News webinar, held ahead of the inaugural Global Power & Energy Exhibition (GPEX), was organised with GPEX’s strategic knowledge partner A.T. Kearney. The webinar united Junior Isles, Editor-In-Chief of The Energy Industry Times, Romain Debarre, Managing Director of the A.T. Kearney Energy Transition Institute, and Tom Harper, Director of Helios at A.T. Kearney to discuss challenges and opportunities in electricity storage and battery vehicles.

Adding flexibility to power systems:

In the context of the global transition to a sustainable, low-carbon and smarter energy network, Romain Debarre raised the need for the power system to acquire more flexibility to be able to manage the electricity demand viability as well as uncertainty. The growth of networks, coupled with the increasing part of renewables in the energy mix, are factors that increase even further the need for more flexibility, to notably reduce the risk of blackouts.

Romain Debarre explained that network flexibility can be improved through different ways such as trading of electricity from adjacent markets (other countries), adjusting local production with dispatchable power plants or playing with demand and consumption through demand-response solutions. Storage is also a growing source of grid flexibility, with two kinds of storage grid services: ancillary services and load-levelling.

Battery technology:

Romain Debarre outlined the three steps of electricity storage process which include charge, storage and discharge. Those steps are characterised by various properties such as power-to-energy ratio which determines the typical storage cycling time, round-trip efficiency which results from the difference between the quantities of energy withdrawn and injected, and the energy per volume or weight which determines the land footprint.

A brief overview of the different types of electricity storage solutions was also given by Romain Debarre, who cited: mechanical batteries which include pumped hydro storage and flywheel, thermal batteries, electrical batteries, electrochemical batteries and chemical batteries.

The expert also emphasised the need for a holistic approach when looking at the environmental benefits of using batteries for EVs for example, which only depend on the power source of the stored energy. It is also crucial to remember that one storage technology cannot address all applications and the storage market is working to develop new business models to match technology properties and applications requirements in a profitable manner.

Smart charging and vehicle-to-grid:

Smart charging and vehicle-to-grid (V2G) enable individual vehicles to provide energy back to the grid and moderate the ways in which they are charging in line with the network’s current situation, as detailed by Tom Harper. This technology enables the network to moderate the charging behaviours of large groups of vehicles – slowing the charging down in periods of high demand and vice-versa – and make them participate in some of the existing market mechanisms like demand-response etc. This constitutes a great new value pool, with a £350-£1500 (€400 to €1700) per year per vehicle in positive cash potential. While some technology challenges are still to overcome, with this newly emerging model, the potential to harness is truly important, according to Tom Harper, and a trend to watch.

Market trends:

The two panellists concluded their presentations by answering questions from our audience on current challenges and future trends for energy storage. Romain told us that contrary to what is commonly believed, the biggest issues for storage are not necessarily the cost and capacity – which are more objectives than issues – but the potential shortage of lithium and cobalt, as well as battery life and used batteries. Getting the consumer proposition right is the most important factor for the uptake of EVs, according to Tom Harper. For him, EVs will only become an important part of the mobility market if consumers are comfortable with the technology, can afford it and find it attractive.

LISTEN TO THE WEBINAR RECORDING

This webinar was held ahead of the energy transition event the Global Power & Energy Exhibition (GPEX), which is will be held on 17-20 September 2018 at the Fira Gran Via in Barcelona, Spain. Find out more about the event here. 

 A.T. Kearney recently published an electricity storage FactBook, which you can access here.

Next GPEX News and A.T. Kearney’s webinar will be held on 16 May 2018, sign up for our newsletter to stay tuned!