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MEPs want to see comprehensive strategy on energy storage

As energy from renewable sources will form an increasing part of the European energy mix, the European Parliament outlined its strategy for energy storage, which is set to play a crucial role in reaching the goals of the Paris Agreement on climate change. In a report drafted by the Committee on Industry, Research and Energy MEPs propose ways to step up storage solutions.

“Energy storage will be essential for the transition to a decarbonised economy based on renewable energy sources,” said MEP Claudia Gamon (Renew).

The Commission expects that by 2050 the European power system will be based more than 80 per cent on renewables. According to estimates, the EU will need to be able to store six times more energy than today to achieve net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 as electrification will further expand.

“Apart from technologies that we already know work well like pumped hydro storage, a number of technologies will play a crucial role in the future, such as new battery technologies, thermal storage or green hydrogen,” explained Ms Gamon. “These must be given market access to ensure constant energy supply for European citizens.”

Therefore, the report calls on the Commission to develop a comprehensive strategy on energy storage this way enabling the transformation to an energy-efficient and renewables-based economy. MEPs expect the Commission to take into account all available technologies as well as close-to-market technologies while keeping a technology-neutral approach.

The strategy should identify necessary measures to improve cross-border connections and coordination and reduce regulatory burdens for market entry as well as improve access to capital, skills and raw materials for storage technologies.

Strenghtening the European battery value chain

In line with these aspirations, the Parliament supports the Commission’s efforts to create European standards for batteries and to reduce dependence on their production outside of Europe. The report stresses that battery technologies are of crucial importance to guarantee the EU’s strategic autonomy and resilience as regards electricity supply.

However, the EU has a very low lithium-ion battery manufacturing capacity and relies heavily on products sourced outside Europe with limited transparency. The Parliament points out that this should be reduced through enhanced recycling schemes and by sourcing raw materials sustainably, possibly in the EU.

The report also calls on the Commission to propose eco-design requirements for batteries in order to improve their recyclability by design. MEPs also highlighted the need to support research, know-how and skills in order to foster battery production in the EU.

The Commission also set out its own initiatives to promote the EU’s prospects of self-sufficiency in the lithium industry. At the end of May, Commission Vice President Maroš Šefčovič announced an Acceleration Plan for the European Battery Alliance (EBA), established to create a whole European battery value chain.

MEPs propose ways to boost other storage options, such as mechanical and thermal storage, as well as the development of decentralised storage through home batteries, domestic heat storage, vehicle-to-grid technology and smart home energy systems.

Parliament asks for an enhanced support system for energy storage

In the adopted report, the Parliament calls on the European Commission as well as Member States to remove regulatory barriers that hamper the development of energy storage projects, such as double taxation or shortcomings in EU network codes.

In the context of the ongoing revision of the TEN-E directive, the Parliament called as a matter of urgency for the revision of the eligibility criteria and electricity infrastructure categories, in order to better address the development of energy storage facilities before the adoption of the next list of projects of common interest (PCIs).

MEPs also request that the important role of storage in the energy transition should be taken into consideration when reviewing the State aid guidelines. The report lacks direct reference to energy storage projects in the Commission’s Guidelines on State aid for environmental protection and energy 2014-2020 and notes that astonishingly few State aid measures for storage projects have been notified in the past.

MEPs call for cost-benefit analysis of retrofitting gas infrastructure

The Parliament also highlighted the great potential of hydrogen produced from renewable sources and called on the Commission to continue supporting research into and the development of a hydrogen economy.

The report notes that the possibility to make use of existing grid pipelines should be considered before contemplating the construction of a separate grid to transport hydrogen. Therefore, MEPs call on the Commission to conduct a comprehensive impact assessment, a cost-benefit analysis and an availability analysis of retrofitting gas infrastructure.

However, in order to avoid market distortion, clear rules are needed to determine the roles of different actors in the market, similar to the revised electricity market design provisions, MEPs note.

Currently, there is no harmonised framework defining standards or requirements for power-to-gas. Blending standards vary between 5 per cent and 20 per cent among the Member States. Therefore, the report calls on the Commission to assess and develop a clear taxonomy and standards for hydrogen, for both the gas grid and end-users.

MEPs also took note of the need to address the issue of the new role of gas Transmission Systems Operators (TSOs) in the light of unbundling rules. Under current internal gas market rules, EU gas infrastructure transmission and distribution system operators are only authorised to transport natural gas as a regulated activity. MEPs pushed the Commission, in the context of the Energy System Integration Strategy, to enable operators to transport low-carbon gases such as hydrogen, biomethane, and synthetic methane.

The Commission presented its strategy for energy system integration as well as its long-awaited hydrogen strategy last week with the objective of transforming Europe’s energy system and reach carbon neutrality by 2050.

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