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Energy storage

Storing energy so it can be used later, when and where it is most needed, is key for an increased renewable energy production and for energy security.

At any moment in time, the consumption of electricity has to be perfectly matched with the generation of electricity. This balance is necessary in all electricity grids to maintain a stable and safe supply. Energy storage can stabilise fluctuations in demand and supply by allowing excess electricity to be saved in large quantities over different time periods, from fast storage in seconds to longer storage over days.

Storage and future technologies

Energy storage has a key role to play in the transition towards a carbon-neutral economy. To identify how to further develop energy storage technologies, the Commission published guiding documents on a proposed definition and principles in June 2016 and a staff working document on the role of electricity in energy storage in February 2017. These principles were subsequently reflected in the norms of the Clean energy for all Europeans package, adopted in 2019.

By balancing power grids and saving surplus energy, energy storage represents a concrete means of improving energy efficiency and integrating more renewable energy sources into electricity systems. It will also help enhance the EU's energy security and create a well-functioning internal market with lower prices for consumers.

The main energy storage reservoir in the EU is by far pumped hydro storage, but batteries projects are rising, according to a study on energy storage published in May 2020. Besides batteries, a variety of new technologies to store electricity are developing at a fast pace and are increasingly becoming more market-competitive.

Since 2020, the European Commission has published yearly progress reports on Competitiveness of Clean Energy Technologies that present the current and projected state of play for different clean and low-carbon energy technologies and solutions. The 2022 Competitiveness Progress Report includes dedicated sections on renewable hydrogen production through water electrolysis, and batteries, as they are crucial to succeed in the decarbonisation of energy and transport sectors.

EU initiatives on batteries

Global demand for batteries is growing rapidly, given their capacity to integrate more renewables into our energy systems and their ability to green the industry and transport sectors with spillover effects on the electrification on other sectors.

The comprehensive governance framework of the energy union and the strategic action plan on batteries (annex 2 to the Communication on sustainable mobility for Europe (COM/2018/293), were important steps to help build a globally integrated, sustainable and competitive industrial base on batteries in the EU. The progress made was evaluated and summarised in the Commission report on the Implementation of the Strategic Action Plan on Batteries (COM/2019/176), published in 2019.

Batteries Europe and batteries research

Batteries Europe, launched in 2019, is the European technology and innovation platform of the European Battery Alliance, run jointly by the European Commission and stakeholders in the battery industry.

The Batteries Europe platform includes a wide representation of stakeholders and has a well-defined governance structure, including six thematic working groups, which are building on the previous work from the Strategic Energy Technology Plan (SET Plan) action 7 on batteries, focused on competitiveness in the global battery sector.

Most of the new EU collaborative research projects on batteries are taking place under the BATT4EU Partnership, with €925 million earmarked for the current 7-year financial perspective. Simultaneously, a number of EU countries have teamed up for Important Projects of Common European Interest (IPCEI) on batteries research and innovation.

Bridge projects on batteries

Bridge is a European Commission initiative that unites smart grids, energy storage, islands and digitalisation projects funded under Horizon 2020 and Horizon Europe.

In 2018, the group published a report based on input from 15 projects, most involved in battery integration in the energy system. Amongst the main findings, the report highlights that

  • most of the demonstration sites involving batteries are located in Southern Europe and on islands (where batteries make the highest economic sense)
  • different battery technologies are tested within H2020 projects, even if lithium-ion batteries were the most widely used
  • batteries are tested at all levels of energy system for different use cases
  • new market designs and business models are being elaborated by the H2020 projects in order to make these new services economically viable
  • batteries from electric vehicles are involved in the use of second-life batteries (from EVs and smart charging and vehicle-to-grid (V2G) applications)

The BATSTORM project (2016-2018)

This Horizon 2020 funded project was set up in 2016 to identify and support research and development needs in the area of battery-based energy storage. Reports and analysis provided by BATSTORM are listed below.