SolarPower Europe calls for policy changes to unleash solar+storage potential

SolarPower Europe (former European Photovoltaic Industry Association), the European Heat Pump Association (EHPA) and the Association of European Automotive and Industrial Battery Manufacturers (EUROBAT) presented today a new “Solar and Storage” policy paper, proposing regulatory adjustments needed to unlock the potential of solar+storage technologies in Europe.

"Storage allows for households to consume more of the solar power they produce. But solar and storage together also provide wider system benefits as storage technologies allow for the best use of cheap solar electricity when it is available, “ said Policy Director of SolarPower Europe Alexandre Roesch.

Considering that in 15 years from now, almost half of power in Europe is expected to be generated by renewables, appropriate energy storage solutions become a more and more important issue every day. And yet there is no commonly agreed legal definition of energy storage at the EU level, which slows down the creation of a real European market for the technology.

A common legal definition for storage is one out of six regulatory adjustments proposed by SolarPower Europe in the new policy paper. Further measures include the development of appropriate and cost-efficient framework for renewable self-consumption in the upcoming new Renewable Energy Directive. In parallel, energy policies should ensure that services provided by storage and solar to transmission system operators (TSOs) and distribution system operators (DSOs) are properly recognized and valorized.

Furthermore, the implementation of the EU strategy for heating and cooling should identify which elements require a regulatory prolongation in the product-related European legislation. Also, it should emphasize the potential of bridging electricity and thermal grids via the storage of surplus electricity in the form of heat.

The paper suggests that the European Strategic Energy Technology Plan should promote the integration of storage solutions into buildings, communities and industrial processes. Finally, it highlights the “great potential” of storage technologies for creating high-tech R&D and production jobs in Europe, and proposes the introduction of temporary market programs with a digressive design, which can help to accelerate cost reduction for energy storage.

“For example, the KFW program in Germany has helped to create a strong battery-storage market in Europe,” the paper says.

As the experts point out in the policy paper, solar and storage technologies provide new opportunities not only for homeowners and businesses but also for grid operators. For example, batteries can provide backup power through the entirety of a power outage period, serving as uninterruptible power supply unit, which is particularly useful in areas with weak low voltage grids.

Further benefits can be gained by combining thermal power generation with PV and storage technologies. "Heat pump systems equipped with storage are cost efficient thermal batteries providing demand response potential to the grid. Reversible heat pumps connected to PV generators provide renewable cooling when it’s needed most – with little impact to the grid," said Thomas Nowak, Secretary-General of EHPA.