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Video interviews: AES, Eaton, SolarEdge and more at our Energy Storage Summit

Solar Media’s Energy Storage Summit took place at the end of February and was attended by around 350 delegates and stakeholders, looking at energy storage markets in the UK and beyond.

Collected here are seven interviews with leading figures at the event spanning utility-scale, commercial and residential energy storage: Carla Tully, president of AES UK & Ireland, John Zahurancik, president of AES Energy Storage, Louis Shaffer, distributed energy management head for EMEA at Eaton, Mateo Rizzi, director of global sales in PV and BESS at Nidec ASI, Randell Johnson, chief analyst at Alevo, Lior Handelsman, VP of marketing and global strategy at SolarEdge and Dr Ian Chilvers, chief power systems engineer at Smart Power Systems.

Carla Tully, president, AES UK & Ireland

Tully says AES believes energy storage is at the “beginning of an explosion” that will see the technology become the “glue to optimise the infrastructure that’s already in place and make it work together”. Tully explains why the UK and energy storage are such a good fit, and why with over 3 million hours of energy storage operation under its belt AES is well positioned to serve the market.

John Zahurancik, president of AES Energy Storage

Zahurancik gives a quick primer on AES’ past 10 years in energy storage, including a recent 37.5MW/150MWh project in the US, adding that from observing growing markets including Germany, the US and Australia and the Philippines and India he now sees energy storage serving bigger and bigger applications. Zahurancik says AES saw 60% to 70% growth in the energy storage market last year and expects the pace of growth to persist or accelerate.

Louis Shaffer, distributed energy management head, Eaton

There is “huge potential for growth” in the UK market, Shaffer says, due to the increasing amounts of renewables in the energy mix. Behind-the-meter, the issue of long-term cost reduction and energy independence are big drivers for energy storage, Shaffer argues.

“What we see is the overall trend of storage costs dropping so fast has really driven interest by the utilities and the regulators, the grid operators, as a new tool to manage supply and demand,” Shaffer says.

Mateo Rizzi, director of global sales for PV and BESS, Nidec ASI

Utility-scale storage could grow to 2GW in 2017 and then up to 4.2GW by 2020, Rizzi says Nidec ASI is expecting. The UK and US are likely to be where the main action is, followed by European territories including Germany, Rizzi says, with some activity expected in the Middle East and Japan too. As with AES’ Zahurancik, Rizzi says Nidec ASI sees lithium-ion continue to dominate in the near future, due to the lack of market-ready alternatives and the continuing fall of lithium-ion system costs.

Dr Randell Johnson, chief analyst, Alevo

Dr Johnson was impressed with the engagement of UK regulator Ofgem with the event and with the UK industry in general. “Stitching together” work by regulators, utilities, governments and industry is the next big step to get the most out of energy storage, according to Johnson. Policy and regulations remain the biggest barriers at the moment; recognising the value that energy storage can bring and incorporating that into planning processes remains a challenge. Johnson also discusses his 20 years in energy storage and how the technology has gone from concept to execution in that time.

Lior Handelsman, VP of marketing and global strategy, SolarEdge

Also one of the founders of the Israel-headquartered microinverter/energy management company, Handelsman talks about innovations in turning aggregated fleets of solar homes with storage into ‘virtual power plants’.

“One of the challenges with these types of services is that it is a highly fragmented market. It’s not even country-wise, in many cases its utility-wise, DNO-wise or a specific grid operator business model,” Handelsman says, referring to the myriad different services and markets aggregated solar-plus-storage could play into.   

Dr Ian Chilvers, chief power systems engineer, Smart Power Systems

Smart Power Systems has executed several commercial energy storage projects in the UK already and Chilvers offers his views on why the sector is so strong at the moment.

“I think there’s a big opportunity for commercial systems - to help get renewable energy connected to these systems as well, which many clients still want because it does have a positive impact on their profits. It is still of interest to them even though the feed-in tariff (FiT) has been eradicated.”

Using “intelligent controls”, these systems could also join capacity and grid-balancing markets, Chilvers says, making them even more interesting to clients.