Decentralised energy storage means better distribution grid management

Small-scale, dispersed energy storage facilities could prove useful in enabling European distribution system operators (DSOs) to better manage their networks, according to a new report from Eurelectric, the body which represents Europe’s electricity industry.

Released in the run-up to the European Commission’s plan to publish its own strategic thoughts on energy storage, the report looks at the role of decentralised electricity storage in the electricity grid, focusing in particular on the implications for DSOs.

Future challenges faced by DSOs include increasing peak loads, stricter power quality requirements and the continuous development of distributed generation.

The report explains how smart and small-scale storage could support an active network management, paving the way for cost-efficient and flexible responses to those challenges. The importance of decentralised storage in relation to the Smart Grid is emphasized in the report.

In a system of increasingly bi-directional power flows, electrical storage devices in the distribution grid could “smooth out” supply and demand, thereby helping to keep the system balanced, says the report.

However, it also warns that the success of electricity storage will depend on the economic merits of storage technologies compared to other flexibility alternatives, most notably demand response or flexible generation.

Nonetheless, the report expects decentralised storage technologies to become competitive over time, as the share of renewables in the European power system increases and the advantages of electricity storage in integrating these sources become increasingly clear.

The report concludes by calling on policymakers to assess the regulatory requirements and market design issues surrounding decentralised electricity storage and to clarify the roles and responsibilities of all actors involved.

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