China’s deployment of energy storage looks set to continue an upward trajectory, with almost 600MW in the pipeline as of the third quarter this year.
According to figures released by the China Energy Storage Alliance (CNESA), 14 new projects were announced in Q3 2016 totalling 587MW. This includes projects that are in planning stages, under construction and that have gone online in the quarter. This appears to represent a significant boost to the sector, and is a vast 586% increase on the same period of last year. Up until the beginning of the quarter, CNESA found, 170.6MW of energy storage was in operation in the country.
The bulk of this large figure is contributed by a single project, a touted 400MW supercapacitor storage station with storage duration of four hours in Guazhou County, in the northern Gansu province, a couple of hundred kilometres south of the border with Mongolia. This project will be used to demonstrate the use of storage in preventing wind power capacity curtailment on a microgrid. The project, by Shidai Jiahua Co, requires US$680 million in investment and has an expected payback time of 16 to 18 years.
There was also a 160MW local government project in Inner Mongolia, another microgrid to be used for renewables integration. The local authority of Xilin Gol, one of Inner Mongolia’s 12 sub-divided regions, is keen to trial retail sales of electricity from independent suppliers and this project represents a major step forward in this regard.
While these two huge projects are in northwestern regions of China, Jiangsu in the east will get some significant new projects including a 1.5MW/12MWh project from partners including battery maker Narada Power, inverter maker Sungrow and project developer GCL Power, which is an arm of one of China’s biggest PV groups, GCL Poly. Narada Power was also involved in a 15MW/120MWh project in Jiangsu’s Wuxi City Xingzhou Industrial Park.
Overall, renewables integration appears to be the biggest application driver for energy storage in China, as seen in the diagram below. While big announcements were plentiful, only 1.5MW of storage actually came online in Q3, which was nonetheless a 50% increase on the same period of 2015.
Regional reforms, big factories and major investments
CNESA also reported that there have been several rounds of regional-level reforms including the establishment of electricity trading centres, the approval of various reform plans by the National Energy Administration and the start of development of power trading markets in various regions.
There was also major news in terms of production centres for energy storage technologies with Sungrow’s partnership with Samsung SDI expected to reach 100MWh production capacity this year and 500MWh next year. GCL Integrators is also building a large facility, a 500MWh battery factory. GCL is investing US$13 million in that plant.
In terms of significant investments in energy storage reported on by CNESA, Shanghai Electric Power has committed to investing US$870 million in the next three years on 100 to 200 energy storage projects in Wuxi, Jiangsu province. The company will make an even bigger investment in Hubei province, central China, putting in US$4.3 billion for more than 1,000 storage projects over the next five years. Meanwhile lithium-ion battery maker Zhuhai Yinlong Co. was purchased by appliances manufacturer Gree for US$1.8 billion.