Evolution in the Storage Market

Expert Interviews – Tuesday, March 03, 2020

Seven questions for ees Europe Conference Chairman Florian Mayr, partner at Apricum – The Cleantech Advisory

Florian Mayr, Partner at Apricum

The ees Europe Conference has been an independent event since 2014 and part of The smarter E Europe since 2018. This year, you are chairman of the ees Europe Conference committee for the first time. What are you hoping to achieve with the ees Europe Conference?

In my work as a strategy and transaction consultant for the energy storage industry, I hear about the topics that our clients are really concerned with every day. I would like to use the conference to cover these truly relevant aspects of the energy storage industry and address some of the practical questions that visitors to The smarter E have. The conference program ultimately aims to answer the critical question of how to take advantage of the opportunities offered by the maturing energy storage market both today and in the near future.

In 2020, the ees Europe Conference will focus on the opportunities and challenges of a maturing industry with the motto “Growing up with the market”. What are these opportunities and challenges and how should the industry respond to them?

The electricity sector is still undergoing sweeping changes. Trends such as the rising share of renewable sources of energy, decentralized power generation and the electrification of neighboring sectors such as transport and heat are driving the need for a flexible energy system. Energy storage systems are an excellent way to create flexibility, which makes them an integral part of the continued successful energy, transport and heating transition. The current professionalization of the industry is improving the positioning of energy storage systems against their alternatives – the commercial potential is immense.
At the same time, market participants are faced with a high degree of complexity. Markets for energy storage systems are generally pockets of opportunities which may open and close quickly, depending on the – often limited – demand as well as on changing regulatory framework conditions and growing competitiveness. Players in the energy storage market have to recognize and evaluate such developments early on in order to respond flexibly. To make the most of these opportunities, additional cost-cutting potential must be identified and exploited continuously, and business models must be adjusted and implemented using suitable processes.

At the ees Europe Conference, market analysis with a focus on the European market as well as the latest market surveys should provide guidance for the storage industry. What are the current hot spots in the storage industry?

Different countries are facing different challenges within their respective energy systems. These challenges determine demand and can be addressed with the help of storage systems. Whether or not a market evolves into a storage system hot spot also depends on the regulatory framework conditions and the resulting competitiveness of available alternatives as well as on the reimbursement offered for the value created by storage systems. Against this backdrop, the USA, the UK, Germany, Italy, South Korea, China, Japan and Australia will remain the key markets in 2020. At the same time, promising opportunities keep opening up around the world. From frequency regulation in Ireland to the time shift of solar power generation in the United Arab Emirates, we are seeing the creation of market access and remuneration options in order to take advantage of the growing appeal of storage devices as a means of boosting flexibility.

Price development in the battery industry is not just a key topic at the ees Europe Conference: How will prices along the production chain develop? What is driving prices today and what will drive prices in the future? Which trends should be taken into consideration? These questions are being discussed across the industry. Will the conference find answers?

Yes, these questions will be addressed in a dedicated session. Ultimately, it is the lifetime costs of a project that determine which energy storage system or which storage technology is selected. Investment costs, which are a result of the prices of individual system components, play an important role here. And these prices, in turn, are driven by a variety of factors, such as raw material prices, economies of scale in production, and technological improvements. Individual pricing policies for complete storage systems also play a role. Understanding these drivers and how they interact is vital for anyone looking to proactively develop cost cutting strategies.

The ees Europe Conference is one of four conferences held as part of The smarter E Europe. What’s your view on this concept and where do you see connections between the individual conferences? And which of the other conferences sessions do you consider relevant for storage experts?

As I mentioned earlier, variable solar power generation and decentralized generation are the main drivers behind the need for flexibility in the energy system and, by extension, the need for storage systems. Aggregating smaller storage units may open up new business opportunities thanks to “digital energy”. For some fields of application, such as alleviating grid congestion, this solution may be in competition with storage solutions. With the rise of e-mobility, the electricity and transport sectors are increasingly converging, so that the challenges and opportunities of the two are overlapping more and more.
As a result, renewables, digital energy, energy storage and e-mobility are closely intertwined and should not be considered separately. The smarter E Europe’s parallel conferences offer an excellent format for exploring all of these topics together. Storage experts will be particularly interested in presentations such as “Leading the Charge: Electrical Energy Storage for Residential and C&I PV Systems” and “A Formidable Team: Utility-scale PV and Electrical Energy Storage”, which are both Intersolar Conference sessions, or in “Dealing with Dunkelflaute – Changing Energy Supplies With the Seasons” at the Smart Renewable Systems Conference.

The ees Europe Conference program now also features a networking session where participants can meet experts and potential business partners. There will be also three workshops. What will they be about and who will lead them?

Christian Metzger of the patent attorney firm Grättinger Möhring von Poschinger will offer a workshop titled “Protecting Technical Innovations with Patents”. This topic is especially interesting because patents are becoming more and more important for the energy storage industry – ultimately, it’s technological innovations that are increasingly used to attract and retain customers. Energy companies often neglect to protect their technical innovations with patents, while companies from other industries with a more proactive patent culture – such as the automotive industry – are pushing into the energy sector and asserting their claims here. Continuing to ignore the issue of patents could become expensive for energy companies. On the one hand, without patent protection, competitors can copy a company’s own technical innovations, and on the other, infringing upon a third party’s patent can become very expensive and unpleasant.

Dr. Holger Hesse, Deputy Head of the Institute for Electrical Energy Storage Technology at the Technical University of Munich, will be talking about technological aspects of battery storage systems in his workshop, “Battery Storage Systems in the Context of Sector Coupling”. The strong growth of electric vehicles is leading to changes in the applications and tasks for storage devices. At the same time, the EU and Germany are passing new regulations on carbon pricing and carbon avoidance which will encourage the use of electricity for heating. Do you need a new energy management system to integrate electric vehicles into your home or company site? Will buffer storage devices for quick charging systems trigger new growth in the storage industry? Is connecting electric vehicles to the grid as part of a vehicle-to-grid system really in competition with stationary storage systems? How can storage systems contribute to the success of the domestic and industrial heating transition and what conditions are needed? These are among the questions that will be discussed with industry and research experts during the workshop.

This year, the ees Europe Conference will once again be complemented by the Power-to-X Conference. The second edition of this event will take place on Thursday, June 18 and will be co-hosted by Hydrogen Europe, SolarPower Europe and Eurogas as strategic partners. Why is Power-to-X becoming so important?

Power-to-X offers a multitude of solutions for heat, transport and industry, to name but a few areas. If costs go down, hydrogen may play a role in the future as a stationary storage device – in other words as a form of Power-to-Gas-to-Power – when electricity needs to be stored over a long period of time, such as for seasonal storage system

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