People are hindering energy storage growth
Regulators and politicians need to do more to help integrate new energy storage technologies into the grid, and industry must stay informed about trends in order to harness the opportunities in this space, according to Robert Morgan, CEO of Energy Storage at GE Renewable Energy.
Ahead of his keynote presentation at the Australian Energy Storage Conference, he suggested the biggest obstacle to integrating storage into the grid is people as opposed to hardware, as the base infrastructure already exists.
“What is really needed is system operators and interconnection rules to recognise that energy storage both generates electricity and demands electricity — it flows both ways,” Morgan said. “Control systems and grid software need to be updated but the wires can fundamentally handle energy storage — incumbent operators often have a resistance to change.”
With an ever-increasing penetration of renewables, he said energy storage is “a natural progression” of the industry. However, it is up to industry and regulatory forces to ensure this transition occurs.
“We already have the control systems and software to enable more energy storage, but regulators and politicians need to help push system change.”
In addition to rallying behind these critical system reforms, he emphasised the importance for storage companies to keep abreast of industry trends, which can aid decision-making and make it easier to spot market opportunities. Lithium-ion batteries and the growing synergy between energy storage and renewables were identified by Morgan as current energy storage trends.
“Right now, the trends in energy storage are twofold. First, electric vehicles are advancing to a scale that makes lithium-ion batteries the cheapest and most effective of the proven storage technologies at modest durations — less than six hours.
“Second, customer demand for shaped energy supply products means that we can offer wind, solar and gas technologies in combination with energy storage to create a hybrid renewable solution that meets customer needs.”
Morgan also highlighted the ‘three Ds’ — decarbonisation, digitisation and decentralisation — which he said are creating key opportunities in energy storage.
“The three Ds, along with electrification of vehicles and other goods, are driving consumer behaviour and making it a necessity to ramp up volumes of renewables, as well as smaller scale projects and automation,” he said. “This creates the opportunity for energy storage to enable more consumer choice, eg, ‘sun and wind when I want it’, and more localised energy system deployment and control.”
Morgan has over 30 years’ experience in global energy markets, and joined GE in early 2018 to grow the company’s energy storage start-up unit into a self-sufficient division within GE Power. He will address these issues as well as critical questions about corporate strategy and project development in the storage sector at the Australian Energy Storage Conference, held from 13–14 June at the International Convention Centre in Sydney. For more information and to register, visit australianenergystorage.com.au.
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