Analyses & Studies

The (future) role of batteries in energy storage

Battery storage will offer many opportunities to generate energy in a smarter way and will help to develop the energy transition

Climate Change & Sustainability Forum 

Date: 22 May 2018

Speakers: Alastair Davies, Head of Strategic Analysis & Modelling, EDF Energy and Richard Thompson, Partner, Foresight Group

Chair: Jean-Philippe Verdier, Founding Partner, Verdier & Co, Corporate Advisory


The Climate Change & Sustainability Forum explained why and explored the future opportunities of batteries in energy storage.

To a low-carbon electricity system

In 2016, more than fifty percent of electricity generation in the UK came from fossil fuels. After the COP 21 in Paris, there is momentum towards reducing reliance on non-renewables, as part of a pact to reduce emissions and greenhouse gas.

According to Alastair Davis, EDF Energy forecasts that wind power will represent between fifty and sixty percent of the total energy mix by 2030 – the UK being a windier country than it is sunnier. However, the energy giant also plans to build solar power plants, to take advantage of the sunny periods of the year.

Nuclear power will remain at a stable level in order to respond to current and forecasted demand. Although nuclear it is not a renewable energy, it is a still low-carbon option. For EDF Energy, the strategy is clear: reduce the CO2 emission and develop green energy.

Batteries vs. conventional storages

Today, battery storage is ‘underdeveloped’ compared to other conventional energy storage methods, like coal stockpiles, oil or natural gas. Battery storage is more expensive than the other means, in terms of Watt per hours generated, and therefore is not an optimal economic solution. On the plus side, battery storage can offer opportunities to generate energy in a smarter way, not only for peak generation. Batteries can also play a role in the energy transition to sustainable solutions.

Behind-the-meter storage

According to Richard Thompson, ‘Behind-the-meter’ storage is a disruptive method compared to the ‘historical energetic model’, which relies on battery storage system, charged by centralized power plants. That model is based on three major pillars:

- BTM storage is decentralized, because storage could be directly next to the demand, which is much more flexible and efficient as the destination point is closer.

- BTM storage is low-carbon effective, and therefore congruent with the goals of energy transition.

- BTM storage disrupts former business models. Batteries can be charged at anytime, especially when the electricity price is lower (not during a peak generation). This could lead to a decrease in price volatility, and revenues could be optimised.

BTM storage has also many technical advantages. For instance, it expands the energy market arbitrage for suppliers, it enhances the frequency response, and it simplifies the network constraint management.

This system could already be applied to current lithium-ion batteries. Researchers are also working on flow-state batteries which could improve the efficiency of batteries. There is little doubt that BTM storage is coming.

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