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Battery Storage & Solar

Battery storage makes solar energy a more efficient and large-scale renewable source of electricity.

The market for battery storage has been growing strongly over the last decade. In Germany, the leaders in solar PV and battery storage, over 60% of new solar PV systems are installed with Battery Energy Storage Systems (BESS). A SolarPower Europe report finds that in 2021, around 250,000 battery storage systems were installed to support solar energy in residential properties alone. This stands as part of the thirteen-fold expansion in BESS capacity across Europe over the last five years. 

The benefits of battery storage are clear. They expand the scope of solar power to provide electricity needs, reducing domestic, commercial, or industrial carbon footprint, and lowering electricity bills from the grid. This can be even more effective as the battery can discharge energy at peak times when the cost of grid electricity spikes. In the UK, the government estimates that battery storage systems which accelerate the transition to low-carbon energy could save us up to £40 billion by 2050. These benefits are already clear-cut in Germany where in 2021 the Levelised Cost of Electricity for solar and battery storage systems was 14.7 Euro cents/kWh, less than half the price of electricity at 32 Euro cents/kWh.

However, there is still some friction slowing down the uptake of battery storage. A shortage of parts over the past few years has delayed the supply of storage systems, especially in countries that do not have a developed solar market. While lithium-ion capabilities are expanding, there are still limitations to the number of times it can be charged and discharged, meaning it is likely to need replacing during the lifetime of solar PV. This has raised some sustainability concerns over the elements needed in the batteries, which may affect consumer confidence. SolarEurope suggests the EU introduce a sustainability framework to ensure a minimum recycled content in batteries, and solar PV and battery storage remain far and away the environmental choice. Stanford professor Mark Jacobson estimates that in a Net Zero world, the total mining burden would drop by 80%, highlighting the importance of expanding on solar systems. 

Governments across Europe are playing their part in expanding storage systems. In Italy, as part of the COVID-19 recovery programme, the government introduced ‘Superbonus 110%’. This allows homeowners to deduct up to 110% of expenses arising from home energy efficiency work, including solar PV and battery storage. Thanks to this, Italy is second to Germany in terms of battery capacity and is expected to grow three-fold beyond the GWh scale in the coming years. 

The evidence is clear that self-consumption, storing energy to be used another time rather than to be discharged to the grid, is the most crucial driver of battery storage, lowering costs and creating reliable and independent power. Innovation in large-scale storage systems and research and development into different types of batteries such as compressed air, mechanical gravity storage, and flow batteries are also set to expand the industrial uses of battery storage. 

The capabilities and the benefits of battery storage are only set to increase in the coming years, which consumers, businesses, and governments can all encourage in the right direction, promoting green energy across Europe.

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