IRENA aims to forge a roadmap for energy storage deployment

It seems that everyone in the renewable energy industry is talking about electrical energy storage, which promises to unlock the potential for the rapid expansion of renewable energy technologies. But thus far, there has been much more talk than action. The International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) is looking to bridge the gap between renewables & storage and pave the way for a move to serious deployment of energy storage technology, starting with a forum to develop an energy storage ‘roadmap’ at this month’s Energy Storage Europe conference, to be held from 25 – 27 March in Dusseldorf, Germany.

IRENA says that the roadmapping workshop will bring together over 50 top renewable energy & energy storage industry players, policy makers, academics, as well as other ‘relevant stakeholders’ in order to find a way to consolidate & begin to standardise some of the industry knowledge that has been built up to date. The event will focus on finding the best applications for the different energy storage technologies that are already or soon-to-be commercially available and examine how they can facilitate greater uptake of renewable energy around the globe.

After the Dusseldorf event, workshops will be held in Beijing, San Jose (California), Tokyo and New Delhi throughout the rest of 2014. The results of the workshops will be amalgamated and refined to produce a document advising best-practice based on the common ground that they uncover or arrive at during deliberations. The resulting energy storage roadmap will complement IRENA’s REmap 2030 document, which focuses on how to increase renewable energy’s share of global electricity generation capacity from its current level of about 2.5% to 16% by the year 2030.

The geographic diversity of IRENA’s workshops is indicative of the scope of the agency’s roadmapping project. Workshops will focus not only on how to work energy storage technologies into the fully-developed grids of industrialised countries, but will also look in detail at the opportunities that await in emerging economies that still lack strong, centralised electricity generation & delivery infrastructure. “In both cases, electricity storage technologies provide new opportunities for restructuring the power system. For emerging economies or isolated states, it will even allow leapfrogging to new grid systems that are more decentralised, more variable, and run without marginal costs.”

Energy storage is also a hot topic in Australia, where residential electricity prices are high and solar PV system installation prices tantalisingly low. Energy storage is seen as the key to freedom for many households who want to significantly reduce their reliance on the electricity grid.

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