Energy Storage Ireland survey results show strong 2.3 GW battery storage project pipeline

Energy Storage Ireland (ESI) has just completed a survey of its members and the results show that the pipeline of battery storage projects in Ireland and Northern Ireland is very strong with 54 projects, making up just under 2.3 GW of capacity, in development.

Battery storage will play an essential role in decarbonising the all-island electricity system so it is extremely positive to see the potential scale of the industry here.

The results show that 1566 MW of the pipeline are projects that currently have planning permission while a further 318 MW of projects are in the planning process and hopefully expecting a decision soon.

Currently there is just 21 MW of operational battery storage on the island which is made up of Statkraft’s 11 MW Kilathmoy battery in Co. Kerry, which went live this year, and the 10 MW Kilroot battery in Northern Ireland.

However, this is a picture that is likely to change dramatically in the near-term as there is a total of 692 MW of projects in advanced development with an active route to market that are looking to come online in the next 12-18 months.

These projects will be providing valuable system support services via DS3 to help manage the  electricity grid with high levels of wind generation. They will predominantly be used to provide fast acting frequency response and reserve grid services that can replace the need to use fossil fuel generators for these services.

For example, to ensure the stability of the electricity system in case of a sudden disruption to power generation or demand, such as a large generator failing unexpectedly, the Transmission System Operators (TSOs), EirGrid and SONI, must make sure that there is sufficient reserve back up power on the system at all times.

This reserve power must be available at a moment’s notice and currently the TSOs meet the majority of their reserve requirement from fossil fuel generators. This means that fossil fuel generators are often turned on or run inefficiently just so they are available to provide this immediate reserve back up.

Replacing these fossil fuel generators with batteries will deliver huge benefits in terms of system cost savings, emissions reductions and lower renewable curtailment as demonstrated in a study carried out by energy experts Baringa (Store, Respond and Save)

However, while the pipeline results paint a good picture for the short-term, we will need a lot more energy storage to meet our decarbonisation goals and there is a considerable amount of uncertainty that may impact the pipeline of projects able to develop from 2022/2023 onwards.

For example, in Ireland the CRU has imposed a cap on the amount of battery projects that can receive a grid connection under the recently launched ECP-2 offer process. The prioritisation of projects by date of planning grant also means that most battery projects will likely be at the back of the queue and may need to wait a couple of years before receiving a connection offer.

The DS3 arrangements as they currently stand are also due to end in 2023. Consultations are ongoing on the enduring framework for 2030 and beyond but this will take time to develop. Clarity on the enduring solution is needed as soon as possible to provide long-term certainty to projects that are in construction now and to developers looking to build.

The role of longer duration storage will also become important as we progress to 2030. Clear investment signals are needed to ensure that these types of storage projects are incentivised over the medium to long-term.

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