Europe stalls on developing energy storage

Energy storage systems store energy incoming from solar panels and other renewable-energy technologies.

Rick Docksai | Mar 23, 2020

Growth in Europe's new energy-storage industry slowed substantially last year, and a study by the European Association for Storage of Energy (Ease) energy blames a lack of government support. The group voiced concern that if the industry does not resume growing, then the rollout of new renewable-energy systems that could reduce greenhouse-gas emissions will in turn suffer.

Energy storage systems store energy incoming from solar panels and other renewable-energy technologies. Europe's energy-storage capacity made a substantial growth of 1.47 gigawatt-hours in 2018, defying expectations, according to Ease. But in the newly published report, consultants for Ease noted that the industry grew only 1 gigawatt-hour last year.

The slowdown was especially sharp among large-scale storage projects that connect directly to energy grids. These large systems can help grids more effectively use renewable energy by storing it and making it available during times when there is not enough sun for solar panels to generate power, or not enough wind for wind turbines to run.

These systems government financial support and regulatory action to move forward, according to Ease. In its report, it cites a clean-energy policy that the EU has enacted for supporting clean-energy technologies, and it anticipates this policy being key to creating a framework  for investing in energy storage.

"The message is clear: even if energy storage is a key enabler of the energy transition and clearly seen as a major tool to achieve the emissions targets linked to the Paris agreement, more support is needed," said Patrick Clerens, Ease secretary general.

Other energy analyses have found that the coronavirus pandemic is likely to slow renewable-energy development worldwide this year. A report by BloombergNEF forecasts that 2020 will be the first year since the 1980s that global solar energy capacity falls.