Energy storage trade group EASE welcomes European Union policy developments

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In the past few days, policymakers at the European Union (EU) have made decisions on a couple of key aspects of legislation relating to energy storage that have been welcomed by industry group EASE.

One was the provisional agreement reached relating to battery regulations on 9 December by the European Parliament and Council, which have decided the framework of rules that should be applied to the battery value chain.

That includes things like carbon footprint labelling and recycled content requirements, set to come into effect in the next couple of years and gradually become stricter, as reported by Energy-Storage.news.

The other was the 14 December European Parliament vote on amendments to REPowerEU, the bloc’s strategy to decrease dependency on imported Russian gas, partly by accelerating the transition to renewable energy.

As reported by this site, the amendments included measures to speed up permitting of clean energy projects in the EU, and in particular, the newest form of the REPowerEU strategy includes proposals to allow for expedited permitting of energy storage system (ESS) projects.

Previous versions had only called for faster permitting times for ESS co-located with generation. As noted in last week’s coverage, EASE offered a comment at the time to the effect that the measures would make energy storage more attractive to investors and would accelerate deployment.

EASE – which stands for the European Association for Storage of Energy – said that permitting can take years and the process can vary greatly from country to country and is in short, “often a problem” for developers.

Only including co-located ESS would have been a missed opportunity to support standalone storage systems in selected areas of the EU where deploying new renewable energy is determined to be highest priority, the group said.

EASE had been vocal in lobbying for energy storage to have a prominent place in REPowerEU. After early iterations of the strategy document – including a draft leaked to Energy-Storage.news in May – showed storage to be conspicuous by its absence, later versions gradually included more mention, although it is worth noting that other terms like hydrogen appear much more prominently still.

However, EASE noted that the EU has accepted that growing energy storage capability is in the “overriding public interest,” given its role in enabling the increase and integration of renewable energy capacity on the continent’s grids.

“The new Renewable Energy Directive draft is bound to positively impact the energy storage industry as a whole by unlocking several projects and speeding up facilities’ development all across the EU,” EASE said in a statement sent to media including Energy-Storage.news.

“If the European Union follows this path, the decarbonisation of the energy system can be successfully achieved.”

‘Still much work to be done’

Similarly, the EU’s Batteries Regulation, if introduced and enforced well, could create impetus for investment into energy storage, EASE said in a separate statement on that topic.

The regulation could ensure sustainable, safe and durable batteries are used and sold in the EU and transform the energy storage sector, EASE said, with the trade group’s secretary general Patrick Clerens calling it a “great opportunity” for the industry.

“Battery energy storage systems deployment rates are incredibly high in Europe,” Clerens said.

“Battery energy storage systems can replace polluting gas peakers (peaking power plants), contributing to reducing the need for gas imports and therefore ensuring energy security and a green transition. And this is just one of many applications.”

However, with the regulations set to apply to different types of batteries including those used in consumer electronics, in electric vehicles (EVs) and other segments as well as stationary battery energy storage systems (BESS), getting the regulations right will be key, Clerens said.

Secondary legislation that treats the different battery types differently will “play a key role in the context of” the Batteries Regulation, according to Clerens. Rules need to be designed taking the “unique characteristics and applications” of energy storage in mind.

“Otherwise, we risk creating barriers and hinder the energy storage sector, ultimately hurting consumers.”

Clerens said also that while the EU has every chance of becoming a leader in legislation, R&D and developing industrial competitiveness in the energy storage space, there also needs to be more done directly to ensure downstream deployment is where it needs to be.

Groups advocate for deployment targets, inclusion of flow batteries in Batteries Regulation

EASE has suggested previously that Europe should have deployment targets for storage by 2030 and 2050 as it and its Member States pursue decarbonisation goals, a call that Clerens repeated in last week’s statement sent to Energy-Storage.news.

In related commentary on the Batteries Regulation, another trade group, Flow Batteries Europe, said the legislation was welcome, but reiterated its previously asserted position that the inclusion only of battery technologies with internal storage – such as lithium-ion – and therefore exclusion of flow batteries, is a mistake.

“For the energy system to become carbon neutral, we need not only more energy coming from renewable sources, but also adequate long-term energy storage technologies,” Flow Batteries Europe (FBE) secretary general Anthony Price said.

Price recently blogged for this site on that topic, arguing that decarbonisation targets will be impossible to achieve without energy storage technologies beyond lithium, which tends to be used for applications requiring up to about 6-8 hours of storage duration, and typically far less than that.

“Excluding flow batteries from the key obligations of the Batteries Regulation in the long term will endanger the competitiveness of the battery value chain, and the achievement of the decarbonisation goals set for 2050,” Price said in a statement last week.

Energy-Storage.news’ publisher Solar Media will host the 8th annual Energy Storage Summit EU in London, 22-23 February 2023. This year it is moving to a larger venue, bringing together Europe’s leading investors, policymakers, developers, utilities, energy buyers and service providers all in one place. Visit the official site for more info.

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