Solar, Storage

SolarPower Europe Outlines Key Conditions for Fostering Solar Storage

SolarPower Europe (SPE) has published 10 policy priorities geared at facilitating expansion of solar power and energy storage within the European market.

Targeting both front-of-meter and behind-the-meter contexts, the priorities concern matters of definition, market design, and remuneration.

SPE hopes its recommendations will resonate with the European Commission as it finalizes preparation of future energy legislation for the European Union.

Vice president of SPE, Riccardo Amoroso, stated: “Today we need European policy makers to put in place stable regulatory conditions including clear definitions and an appropriate market design to ensure a level playing field among competing solution providers. Such conditions will allow for further innovations and corresponding market growth.”

Thomas Doering, policy analyst at SolarPower Europe, coordinator of the Task Force Solar & Storage, and co-author of SPE’s Solar and Storage paper, told Renewable Energy World: “Solar PV is already providing a good share of European generating capacity. Of course, solar is a variable resource. Storage allows us to overcome that variability and provide more stable, or dispatchable, power.”

“We realize that to allow solar storage combinations to penetrate the market, there are certain barriers to be overcome,” he said. “In particular there are needs in terms of regulatory requirements, and market design in particular.”

Although challenges are manifold, Doering highlighted a crux issue:

“The market needs to adapt to storage as an energy asset in the system that is neither consumer nor generator, but both. At the moment, in many places storage is doubly taxed for its handling of electricity. Improving this situation necessarily begins with a definition for electricity storage.”

Just days after publication of SPE’s policy priorities, the European Commission issued a draft of new market design measures that included a definition of energy storage.

The move was welcomed by the European Association for Storage of Energy, and SPE.

Doering commented: “The definition is a first step in the right direction. We now have a basis from which we can start improving legislation. The definition is broad and includes double-conversion. Overall, this means also solar and storage combinations are included. However, based on this definition, storage itself is not yet recognized as a new asset and the double taxation problems are not yet solved. This is something we need to work on in the coming month.”

Definitions are a sure foundation, but true evolution requires more systemic change.

Doering explained: “For solar storage solutions to make economic sense we need functioning, effective markets that storage can compete on.”

He highlighted that reform of intraday markets is important in this respect.

“At the moment, solar-storage solutions are unable to compete on several markets, not because of some technological capability, but because of market mechanisms and design,” he said.

Solar storage solutions are constrained on other levels too; for instance, by minimum capacity requirements and a lack of regulation for pooling over distributed resources.

SPE believes that with meaningful development in policy, solar storage solutions may significantly contribute to the recently announced target of 27 percent renewables in final energy consumption by 2030 (as part of the EU’s revised Renewable Energy Directive).

“Both solar and storage are a highly scalable, flexible technologies — if we’re to see them contribute more greatly to the energy system — as we believe they can — they need to be suitably rewarded, and fairly remunerated for what they bring to the market,” he said.

Providing the Evidence

In support of its recommendations, SPE is preparing a report to feature case studies from a wide range of industry players, including DNV-GL, Enel Green Power, Tesla, and Sonnen.

The report is being prepared by a task force led by Doering who said: “The case studies will provide concrete examples of solar-storage solutions, how they contribute to their respective systems and by what mechanisms. In each case we’ll be providing contextual, background information on the markets in which they are installed.”

Though too early to go into details, Doering said: “We have various projects featured in the case studies. In one, we consider an interesting pilot project testing the combination of a large solar plant coupled with a relatively large battery storage system; we consider how they balance the system, integrate it into the market, and work with forecasts.”

“We hope to provide our report in the first half of 2017.