The Energy Storage Report 2024

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This Friday Briefing hears why grid inertia, which can be supplied by BESS with advanced inverters, matters for decarbonisation and why fire safety is a topic which the industry can tackle together.

Advanced inverters: From geeky dream to decarbonisation

It sounds like a bit of a geeky topic, and it is, but in spite of that, or perhaps even because of that, grid-forming battery storage systems equipped with advanced inverters are a talking point for the industry right now.

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Last week’s most-read story on the site was indeed our Premium coverage of a 300MW/600MWh lithium-ion battery energy storage system (BESS) project in Scotland, UK, which will use advanced inverters to provide system stability services to the grid.

Chief among those services is inertia, and that’s enabled by the advanced inverters, supplied by SMA and integrated into the design by Wartsila Energy Storage & Optimisation, the BESS supplier and integrator.

This morning I spoke with Semih Oztreves, director of global infrastructure at Zenobe Energy about the project. While our interview was largely from a technical perspective, one thing that Oztreves very neatly explained is why this application of advanced inverters could be an important one:

While it’s “an exciting technology and a big leap in terms of the services batteries can provide,” Oztreves said, “the value of the service doesn’t account for a significant amount of revenues that battery storage assets can earn.

“However, from an industry standpoint, and from the government and regulation perspectives, it is, in my opinion, a major discovery because you can offset emissions from generation significantly by buying inertia from grid-forming clean technology. It’s millions and millions of tonnes of CO2 you could save by doing this; it’s a very quick win. It’s [also] a lot cheaper,” Oztreves said.

“However, from Zenobe’s perspective, and for government and the public, this technology represents a significant milestone. We can now significantly offset emissions from generation by purchasing inertia from grid-forming inverter technology. For the UK, that means preventing millions of tonnes of CO2 emissions with a solution that can be deployed at speed and at a highly competitive cost compared to the traditional alternatives like thermal generation that have been historically relied on to deliver these inertia services. This is what matters for policymakers and for the electricity system operator (National Grid ESO).”

It’s not just one for the UK grid either. For example, yesterday we reported that work is about to begin on a project in Victoria, Australia, which will be delivered by Fluence, again with SMA advanced inverters, that is among eight to receive funding support from the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) for adding inertia-providing capabilities to its application set.

Safety is a topic for all stakeholders

I don’t think the BESS industry has a ‘head in the sand’ approach to safety at all. But I do think the industry can’t afford to be complacent about safety – or public perceptions of battery storage safety – either.

Just this morning, I saw another news report about a community in New York State considering calling a moratorium on large-scale BESS development within its boundaries.

Various safety professionals spoke with about both the symptoms and cures of fire safety at the Energy Storage Summit EU, since it seemed a pretty relevant topic to ask them about. You can read all about that in much more detail as those interviews get published in the coming weeks.

To give you a flavour of those conversations, though, it was really interesting to be reminded of how many different angles there are to fire safety.

So, for example, we spoke with Trina Solar executive president Helena Li about Trina Storage’s new Elementa 2 complete BESS solution, equipped with the company’s own in-house made lithium iron phosphate (LFP) cells.

The 4MWh containerised product is liquid-cooled and, in addition to the thermal management system, boasts four different layers of safety protection, from heat and smoke sensors to a fire-resistant enclosure, gas sensors and active ventilation and aerosol-based fire suppression as standard, with water-based suppression as an optional add-on.

We also spoke with Chris Groves, a product manager focused on safety at Wartsila Energy Storage & Optimisation. We talked with Chris about the safety features of Wartsila’s GridSolv Quantum BESS range, including the newest High Energy (HE) version, but also in discussion was the need, as Groves described it, for fire safety testing standards to become more stringent and for companies to work together in progressing best practices as well as engaging with local authorities, regulators and communities.

And it didn’t stop with the system integrators and BESS manufacturers. Safety also came up in conversation with Jurgen Moellmann, business development director at Honeywell, maker of the Li-Ion Tamer gas detection product which is integrated into Trina’s Elementa 2 – and countless other BESS cabinets.

You can hear some of Jurgen’s thoughts on safety, and Honeywell’s learnings, from his recent guest appearance on our webinar with Jinko Solar.

Meanwhile, Kai-Philip Kairies, CEO of battery analytics firm ACCURE had some words to share on the role of cloud-based digital analytics in assuring not just customers, but again, communities, on product and project safety.

In all, safety can seem like a daunting topic, but it doesn’t have to be. Avoiding it would prove much more costly.

UK’s LDES consultation: Hot takes versus nuanced viewpoints

I was honoured to be asked by my colleagues over at Current to appear on the latest edition of the Net Zero by Current podcast this week.

You can hear my contributions – very much a synthesis of things people far better qualified than myself had said at the Energy Storage Summit EU – over at their site or on the podcast platform of your choice.

George Heynes from Current and I spoke about the event briefly, then moved on to the main topic, which was the UK government’s long-duration energy storage (LDES) consultation.

I would say my explanation of what is quite a nuanced topic ranged from the sensible (things I’ve been told by the aforementioned industry boffins) to the quite-possibly outrageous (things that came off the top of my head in the moment).

During that conversation, we discussed a quote from Nick Winser, the UK’s first Electricity Networks Commissioner, whom George spoke to at the Summit earlier this month.

So, if you’ll forgive me a hot take or two, you may find some food for thought in listening, and it may even be a nice way to start off your weekend.  

Happy Friday!

This week on ESN Premium

UK BESS optimisation firms looking beyond ‘merchant’ contracting model

BESS route-to-market (RTM) and optimisation firms in the UK are increasingly looking at a wider variety of contracting mechanisms beyond the revenue-share or ‘merchant’ model, developer-operator Eku Energy told

The conventional model for battery energy storage system (BESS) optimisation in the UK has been for optimisers to take a share of the revenues generated; the revenue-share/merchant model.

Rimac Energy on entering ESS market with SineStack: ‘the Rimac of performance, but not of price’

Rimac Energy is deploying its first pilot projects after announcing its entry into the energy storage system (ESS) market one year ago, and we caught up with its head of business development while at the Energy Storage Summit EU in London.

Rimac Energy is the stationary energy storage arm of Rimac Automobili, the Croatia-headquartered high-performance electric vehicle (EV) technology company which also owns a majority interest in legacy supercar brand Bugatti.

Europe: Rising battery storage markets playing catch-up to the UK’s lead

In Europe, Germany and Spain are among the energy storage markets that clients are most keen to learn more about, according to Wood Mackenzie analyst Anna Darmani.

While the UK is a standout leader of the continent in terms of deployment figures, and arguably also sophistication of business models – as pointed out in a new study by Aurora Energy Research – tracking the European market is also becoming much more interesting, Darmani said.

The reasons why investors are busy buying BESS developers in the UK and Germany

We hear from industry sources about why we’ve seen a flurry of investors acquiring energy storage developer-operators in the UK and Germany, Europe’s two largest markets by BESS deployments.

Our two sources, active in each market but speaking anonymously, explain why we’ve seen numerous deals for large-scale BESS developers and operators in recent months – beyond the obvious fundamentals underlying energy storage’s attractiveness as a market to invest in.

Italy: a market with unique opportunities as 71GWh MACSE capacity market auction approaches

Italy’s grid-scale energy storage market opportunities are unlike anywhere else, but many challenges and uncertainties around the different revenue streams remain, including the upcoming MACSE capacity market auction.

That was the message from the ‘Unlocking Opportunities in Italy’s Energy Storage Landscape’ panel discussion on Day 1 of last week’s Energy Storage Summit EU in London, hosted by our publisher Solar Media.

Speaking to a packed audience hall, executives from technology providers Energy Dome, Energy Vault and NHOA Energy and developers Sphera Energy and Renera Energy discussed one of Europe’s most exciting upcoming grid-scale markets.

24 April 2024
11am PDT / 2pm EDT
This webinar explores the advantages of the metal-hydrogen technology and how it is being packaged into turnkey solutions for project integrators across the globe. We will also highlight the developing long-duration-energy-storage market and identify which technologies are ready to address the demanding needs of an evolving electrical grid.

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