Focus on renewable energy integration and storage

Paul Boughton

The challenges inherent to integrating renewable energy into utility power grids will be in focus at the Renewable Energy Integration & Energy Storage Conference from 15-17th October in Amsterdam. The event will take place as part of the European Utility Week, attended by 8000+ smart energy professionals.

“Over the past decade we have seen an explosive growth of renewable energy markets”, says Elly Kreijkes, producer for the Renewable Energy Integration & Energy Storage Conference.  

She continues: “Supportive government policies, rising costs of conventional energy and new technology improvements have contributed to the dramatic growth levels. But, with the increase of renewables comes huge logistical and technical challenges in adapting the existing infrastructure. European utilities in particular have to invest in the grids. And renewable integration is not just about hardware but also about how power markets function. There are many options available for utilities to balance variable renewables and each grid is unique so that solutions will be diverse.”

 
The event will bring together key industry stakeholders interested in exchanging their views on policy, regulation, business models, the latest technologies and the urgent challenges the industry is facing.  These include leading utilities such as Elia Group, Statkraft Markets, Fortum Distribution, TenneT, GasNatural Fenosa, E.ON, Vattenfall Europe, Dong Energy, EirGrid, GDF Suez, EDF, ESB, Alliander, Swissgrid, Red Electrica and Austrian Power Grid.  

“Variability of RES (Renewable Energy Systems) infeed is a real challenge for system stability”, says Hubert Lemmens, Chief Innovation Officer, Elia Group, Belgium and speaker in October.  He explains:  “in order to cope with this challenge, RES have to participate in delivery of system services, consumers have to be incentivized to concentrate power consumption when it is available, storage has to go down the price curve and for the periods with low RES, biomass and gas fired plants have to fill the gap.”

He says in order to connect all these resources to the European level, strong Trans-European grids have to be built.  “Public acceptance of all these infrastructure (generation, storage, transmission and distribution grids) and affordability for the EU economy are additional challenges,” states Lemmens.

Another headlining speaker at the upcoming Renewable Energy Integration & Energy Storage Conference is Catarina Naucler, Nordic Smart Grid Development Lead at Fortum Distribution in Sweden.  

She states that the main renewable energy integration challenge will be for the industry “to have a holistic view of the transformation of the energy system. Investments will be needed in the whole system and subsidies in one part of the system will drive even more investments in another part. It is a challenge to fund all needed investments and a holistic view among decision makers and industry is the key.”
 
Energy storage already plays a major role says Paul Giesbertz, Head of Infrastructure and Market Policies at Statkraft Markets BV in the Netherlands.  

According to him the existing hydro reservoirs in the Nordic and Alp countries are the cheapest source of flexibility. He explains: “The untapped potential in the Nordic market is still huge and further development of DC-cables to the Nordic market is therefore crucial. We assess that the investment costs related to such cable projects will easily be recovered making use of price differences between the two markets, even in times when there is no need for additional flexibility.”

He continues: “At the same time, the costs of batteries are also falling, so other storage technologies will certainly kick in.  However, we do not need to explicitly support the development of storage, for example by placing the responsibility for storage under the regulated domain of TSOs.  The market will determine what role storage will play in the future.”

The Conference and Expo takes place 15-17th October 2013 at Amsterdam RAI, The Netherlands. For more information, visit www.european-utility-week.com

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