SolarPower Summit: There Is Clear Customer Demand For Solar and Storage
Date: October 5th 2020
Author: Valerija Hozjan
There is significant demand for batteries on the customer side, however, most of the policy frameworks are still not favourable for smaller storage systems. This was the message emphasised in one of the sessions of Thursday’s SolarPower Summit titled ‘Solar and storage for European homes’. In 2019, 745 MWh of storage capacity were installed in Europe, which is an increase of 57% compared to 2018. The total operating capacity at the end of 2019 was around 2 GWh.
Battery storage systems are an essential tool in the future energy world, characterised by high penetration of variable and renewable energy sources. There has been a rapid and a continued decrease in the cost of photovoltaics (PV) and batteries. In Germany, between 2015-2019 the prices for solar (PV) decreased by 18% and for residential battery storage by 40%. Further reductions are expected through to 2023.
In 2019, 745 MWh of storage capacity were installed in Europe, which is a 57% increase compared to 2018. The total operating capacity at the end of 2019 was around 2 GWh. However, when compared to the total PV installed residential capacity, batteries cover only 7% of this capacity. There is huge potential, stressed the speakers in the session.
There are a few pioneers that are driving the battery market. Germany is the clear leader with 66% of the total market (496 MWh year-on-year). Nearly every PV system in Germany comes with a battery. In Italy generous subsidy schemes also drive installation growth (89 MWh year-on-year), while the United Kingdom, where growth is limited by the low residential PV market (38 MWh year-on-year), is in third place. There are also high installations in Austria (37 MWh year-on year), which are supported by national and regional support schemes. Looking outside of those pioneering countries, the rest of the Europe only accounts for 10% of total market storage installation.
Sustained strong growth in the battery segment is expected over the next five years, despite COVID-19, although the growth will slow to 9% due to the pandemic in 2020, with 810 MWh installed. Two-digit growth can be expected in 2021, with the 1 GWh mark being reached in 2022, while by 2024 the scenarios range from 5.6 GWh (low) to 9 GWh (high), emphasised the SolarPower team during the session, when presenting its outlook for storage systems.
Main challenges hindering the rapid growth of residential solar storage
Most of the policy frameworks are still not favourable for solar storage. The fact that battery operators are not really able to access different revenue streams is among the reasons for this. Countries should also acknowledge the storage potential and distribute storage, especially looking at the 2050 energy system, when there will be mass electrification and penetration of variable renewables, emphasised the speakers in the discussion.
“Customer demand certainly isn’t the main obstacle, since there is clear customer demand for solar and storage. The main obstacles are on the regulatory front with outdated rules for bigger storage installations, which do not typically work for smaller installations,” explained Felix Dembski, the Vice President of Strategy at sonnen. The Clean Energy Package is a very good template for solar and storage, added Dembski. “We need to make the energy transition ‘fun’ for customers, so they take matters into their own hands. We need public support for this huge technological transition.”
Carbon price should be the only incentive
The storage market still relies on subsidies, either direct incentives schemes in the investment or some form of indirect subsidies. The reason for this is because we do not yet have a good regulatory framework to enable the full potential of storage systems to be deployed, stressed the panellists.
Our electricity system is changing. We need storage solutions and there is demand from the consumer side for storage, said Pia Alina Lange, Corporate Communications Expert in the Energy and Circular Economy Industry. “The combination of PV and battery storage allows us to reimagine our electricity system. If we want to have a high penetration rate, we need to have incentive schemes that provide certainty.”
“In the future the only incentive we will need should come from the carbon price. The carbon price should make sure that using a renewable alternative is always more economically viable than a fossil fuel alternative. However, we are not there yet from the carbon price perspective. It seems that regulators are having huge difficulties in finding a mechanism that can deliver a carbon price that is able to induce technological change. Until then, other incentives are needed. Over the coming years, organising a handover from the incentive to the carbon price will be key in ensuring that the old-school subsidies are no longer required,” concluded Dembski.
This article is available also in Slovene.