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How does energy storage reduce blackout concerns for tertiary players and reduce their energy costs?

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To deal with the risk of blackouts, announced by RTE, from January 2023, and to avoid a costly decrease in activity, professionals have the possibility to equip themselves with energy storage or inverters (up to ‘up to two hours’ autonomy depending on the application) in order to ensure business continuity.

Property owners in Europe are increasingly turning to battery energy storage systems to reduce anxiety about possible power outages and mitigate the impact of higher energy prices this winter.

Storing less expensive energy during peak hours as well as renewable energy from solar panels, for example, through battery systems, is a first step towards decentralized energy transition and an effective way to deal with fluctuations in electricity costs. It is also a solution to protect against possible cuts. Businesses can conserve enough power to get through blackouts and lower their bills by switching to battery power when prices are at their peak.

It sounds simple, but for most consumers, it’s a new way to manage energy. Doing it right requires paying close attention to how the building uses energy to understand the best time to charge and discharge the battery storage system.

The importance of infrastructure

Although recent, this growing interest in energy storage systems sheds light on future directions. In the future, we will all manage energy differently, not only because of cost, but also to help the power grid absorb more renewable energy and meet electricity requirements.

As the phasing-out dates for petrol and diesel vehicles approach, electric vehicle sales continue to soar. By 2030, millions of electric vehicles will be circulating on the roads of Europe, with aggressive development of charging stations in car parks equipped with shades with photovoltaic panels (all car parks over 1,500 square metres).

The power required for these vehicles must be available and the load must be managed intelligently to avoid peak periods in demand. Energy storage systems will be an important part of the equation, as will the infrastructure to support bi-directional energy flows. Electric vehicles will play a unique role as a carrier of charge and as a power reserve through their batteries.

Everything as a network

Whatever uses or produces energy will develop a new relationship with the grid in order to allow decarbonization through electrification of uses. One-way flow of power from generation companies will give way to a flexible system in which power is generated in many places, delivered where it is needed and priced accordingly.

The development towards energy storage that has been observed in Europe in recent months is part of a movement already underway, accelerated by the sudden international price hike.

Energy storage systems are a good investment within a strategic approach to energy transition and can ultimately make it possible to optimize energy consumption in markets that will experience high price volatility, for example, future hourly rates. Along with electric vehicle charging stations and renewable energy sources such as solar panels, energy storage is an essential part of the electrical infrastructure for most homes and commercial buildings of the future.

Consumers are at the heart of energy optimization

The type of installation that connects electric vehicles to buildings, renewable energy sources, and energy storage is known as a strip coupling. This involves, for example, using energy from the solar panels of a building or a shaded car park with photovoltaic panels to either supply applications within the building (including charging), or to exchange it on the electricity grid in order to balance supply and demand, with programs running on Improve energy flows.

This innovative approach is still little known, however it is likely that we will all get used to the kind of decentralized energy model necessary for decarbonisation. In fact, a new term—the consumer—was coined to describe how companies and individuals produce, consume, and exchange energy on the electricity grid.

Consumers will need energy storage capacity to make the decentralization work, either in battery storage systems or in EV batteries connected to buildings via charging stations. These are investments that they are likely to benefit from. The power grid will need storage capacity to handle the growing volumes of intermittent and variable power from utility-scale wind and solar farms, and to and from consumers.

Back to the battery

However, all this may seem far removed from the current phenomenon of developing battery energy storage systems, which is based on understandable concerns. It’s easy to see why small businesses that use energy on a household scale, such as restaurants that store food in refrigerators, are among the many people who fear not only rising costs, but also what might happen in the event of a sudden blackout.

Battery energy storage systems provide them with some peace of mind, especially thanks to a backup power source that ensures continuous operation of critical equipment and prevents it from suffering costly damage in the event of a sudden loss of current or surge when power is restored.

Obviously, the immediate needs are great, but it is the long-term benefits of flexibility that will make energy storage investments profitable. The energy transition will lead to a large number of new energy flows. One of the best ways to take advantage of this would be the use of energy storage systems and electric vehicles.

Tribune was written by Christophe Bourgel, Business Developer of Power Transmission and Storage Solutions at Eaton in France

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