Presented by Bobby Smith and Bernice Doyle to the Oireachtas Joint Committee on Environment and Climate Action on 22 March 2022
Energy Storage Ireland is a representative body for the energy storage industry in Ireland and Northern Ireland. We represent over 40 members from across the energy storage supply chain and all energy storage technologies that will play a vital role in decarbonising Ireland’s energy sector.
The current price volatility in the energy market and the Ukraine crisis requires us to fundamentally rethink the structure of our energy system and our key policy goals: Security of Supply, Affordability and Sustainability. Energy storage can contribute to all three of these goals by reducing our CO2 emissions, ensuring a secure and sustainable supply of electricity to Irish homes and businesses while reducing the cost of electricity for consumers. Energy storage needs to become a vital tool in Ireland’s response to the current energy crisis and our longer-term decarbonisation targets.
Successful Short-Duration Battery Storage Market
The Irish market has seen a very successful deployment of short duration lithium-ion battery storage with over 350 MW of battery storage currently operational providing important system stability services via EirGrid’s DS3 framework. This number is expected to grow to around 600 MW by 2023. These batteries will remove our reliance on fossil fuel gas generators for fast acting reserves that ensure electricity supply and demand are constantly balanced. Analysis carried out by Baringa energy consultants in 2019 estimates that the provision of system services from battery storage, demand side response and other low carbon technologies instead of traditional fossil fuel generators can reduce power sector emissions by nearly 2 million tonnes of CO2 per year by 2030.
Move to Multi-Hour Storage in the Medium Term
However, the market for short duration batteries is close to saturation and so the focus must shift to energy storage that can store and provide energy for multiple hours at a time. Energy storage in this space will play an important role in contributing to capacity adequacy thus ensuring there is enough available electricity to meet existing and future demand. Multi-hour storage will also be more active in trading energy, thereby helping to smooth price volatility, and supplying power at times of peak demand to displace fossil fuel peaking generation.
There are many technologies that will play a role here. Lithium-ion batteries of up to 8 hours duration are already in development in markets such as California. Other established technologies such as pumped hydro and compressed air energy storage could also feature while other emerging long duration battery technologies are likely to become more viable in the coming years.
In Ireland, while small volumes of lithium-ion batteries of up to 4 hours have secured contracts in recent capacity auctions, and will become operational in the next couple of years, more will be needed. EirGrid have assumed in their Shaping our Electricity Future roadmap that around 1.5 GW of 2-6 hour storage will be operational in 2030. However, there is a high degree of risk and revenue uncertainty for multi-hour projects at present which requires further consideration and a coordinated policy effort to provide the correct investment signals.
One of the key benefits of proven energy storage technologies such as lithium-ion batteries is that they can be deployed quickly relative to new fossil fuel generators. Our analysis shows that there are over 2.5 GW of storage projects in the development pipeline with the majority already through the planning system and awaiting a grid connection and a stable revenue stream under which to construct. These projects could contribute to our near to medium-term capacity needs if they are given a route to develop.
Potential for Energy Storage in the Longer-Term
Finally, in the long-term full decarbonisation of the electricity sector will require the deployment of long-duration multi-day or even multi-week energy storage to cover extended periods of low renewable output. This is likely to require technologies such as green hydrogen and other forms of renewable gas that could be generated from renewables, stored and then used to decarbonise other hard to reach sectors of the economy or provide power generation capability at times of need.
Analysis conducted by Baringa energy consultants on behalf of ESI, and shared with the Committee, shows the benefits that energy storage of different volumes and durations can deliver to the Irish system and consumers by 2030. Energy storage of all durations can help reduce CO2 emissions with durations of between 24 hour to 100 hour providing the most benefit by reducing electricity system CO2 emissions by approximately 50%. This would be a significant achievement considering emissions reductions at this stage will be the most difficult to achieve.
In addition, Baringa’s analysis shows that strategic deployment of energy storage capacity in transmission constrained regions of the network provides additional carbon savings by significantly reducing the constraint of renewables without the need for network reinforcement. All durations of energy storage provide benefits but in particular the 24- and 100-hour duration portfolio was shown to be able to reduce renewable constraint by 90% in a case study of County Donegal, one of the most congested areas of the grid. This would save around 250,000 tonnes of CO2 per year just from being able to utilise this renewable generation in the Donegal region alone. Replicating this in other constrained regions would deliver even greater emissions reductions.
What is Needed
It is essential that the overall policy framework supports investment in a broad portfolio of technologies and enables the deployment of a comprehensive set of energy storage capabilities that can deliver the benefits we have outlined.
The Climate Action Plan 2021 sets out a number of actions relevant to energy storage, for example, the development of a policy framework for energy storage, a review of the regulatory treatment of energy storage and multiple workstreams to facilitate the connection of hybrid technologies. These are all welcome, but it will be important to ensure that the timelines for completion of these activities is met and that there is coordinated engagement with industry to achieve these targets. We would urge that an industry liaison group is set up with key policy makers such as the Department of the Environment, Climate and Communications, the CRU and EirGrid to ensure these actions are completed.
Some of the key immediate workstreams that are needed are as follows:
- Resolution on the future development of DS3 System Services as the current framework that has driven storage development so far is due to end in 2024
- Fixes to existing EirGrid market systems and operational policies to allow the full integration of energy storage.
- Connection policy must allow a feasible and timely route to connect to the grid for the large number of storage projects that are through the planning system
- Investigate the market signals that will drive investment in multi-hour and multi-day storage. It is unlikely that the existing market will provide the types of long-term stable revenue certainty that these projects will require. Changes to the capacity market, new congestion products or incentives that target energy storage in certain areas of the grid and new revenue supports, equivalent to our Renewable Electricity Support Schemes, could be considered for energy storage.
In conclusion, we would ask the Committee to consider energy storage as a proven, readily available, and fast-to-deploy solution capable of delivering significant CO2 emissions savings. The faster we deploy, the great the positive impact we will have, since it will greatly reduce our cumulative carbon emissions. In order to unlock this level of emissions savings we ask for the above actions to be progressed with a sense of urgency by DECC, CRU and EirGrid. The prize is huge, and it will be worthy of the effort.