Battery Storage & RE, a Match made in Energy Heaven

Battery Storage & RE, a Match made in Energy Heaven

Battery storage supports renewable energy but, in some countries and ASEAN specifically, the importance of battery storage integration is not yet highlighted as the hero it should be. Perhaps this stems from a gap in knowledge in battery storage capabilities? Regardless, it should be remedied, with an aspirational target of 35% renewable (RE) share in total installed capacity by 2025, ASEAN needs to roll up its sleeves to achieve this goal, and energy storage is a crucial part of RE integration.

“ASEAN countries need to step up their game on energy storage development. However, we see some common challenges hampering the process. Firstly, there is a misunderstanding of the value of energy storage. There is still a gap of knowledge in learning how storage can improve grid design and operations and the challenges in getting the most value out of an energy storage deployment,” said Beni Suryadi, Manager of Power, Fossil Fuel, Alternative Energy, and Storage in ASEAN Centre for Energy

ASEAN RE capacity is set to almost double by 2025

Energy storage integration is especially important when we consider the RE capacity in the ASEAN region is set to almost double by 2025 according to an HSBC Global Research report. Six of the countries leading the region in RE excellence are Vietnam, the Philippines, Thailand, Singapore, Malaysia, and Indonesia, all of which will add roughly 24 gigawatts in renewable capacity by 2020. The report also suggested energy storage could be a catalyst for change for renewable power plants and the ability to reach new RE heights sits firmly with the incorporation of battery energy storage systems (BESS).

“Large-scale BESS are incredibly flexible assets, highly configurable in the services they can provide to a power system, and the value stack they can offer to project developers. They’ve been described as the Swiss Army Knife of grid infrastructure; in that, they can perform a whole range of different functions,” said Steve Wilson, the Technical Director in Power Generation for Aurecon. And the benefits do not end there. Wilson noted that batteries could also deliver several more practical applications, such as ramping up with remarkable speed to provide the exact power needed by the grid under a range of scenarios.

Though the IEA announced post-pandemic investments in battery storage were up about 40% or USD 5.5 billion year-over-year in 2020 and despite decreasing prices for BESS, it is still challenging for most markets to build a commercial business case for a grid-scale battery. “A significant factor is the lack of recognition for some of the services batteries can provide within existing regulatory frameworks. Another is the challenge of navigating the capability of a battery to provide many different services to derive the optimal mix of services for a particular project,” Wilson said. 

Aspects to Review Before RE Journey Begins

According to Wilson, there are several crucial aspects of how battery storage enables RE that should be considered before beginning a storage integration journey:

  • The emerging needs of a power system as it progresses through various stages of a RE transition, and opportunities for battery storage to address those needs
  • Energy market regulations specific to each jurisdiction, and where reforms are needed to enable adequate energy storage deployment
  • Opportunities to stack various services to achieve the best possible combination of services and business case
  • The technical capabilities of a battery to provide a range of valuable power system services

Top 3 BESS Trends

In fact, the technical capabilities of what new battery storage technologies can provide ought to be highlighted because they are rapidly improving. Wilson said that there are three momentum-building technologies in battery storage today that he believes will continue to grow in the next ten years: extended battery life of up to 20 years through increasing prominence of Lithium Iron Phosphate (LFP) cells, the continued improvement of fire risk management of large scale batteries, and lastly and perhaps most interesting, grid forming inverters.

Equipping battery systems with advanced grid forming inverters has garnered particular interest with their enhanced capability to provide system security services. “These can potentially allow portions of the network to move from island to the main network, which has the future potential to enable large power systems to operate with minimal or no traditional synchronous generation online,” Wilson said. 

Battery storage is a flexible grid-balancing tool; partnered with RE, BESS can make over the antiquated grid and transform it into a modern energy network. “Batteries are already playing important roles in maintaining power system security, and their importance is set to significantly increase as networks transition to greater penetrations of renewables,” Wilson said. 

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