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What’s next for the European energy storage industry? – interview with Jacopo Tosoni, EASE’s Head of Policy

During this year’s Hungarian Battery Day in Budapest, we sat down with Jacopo Tosoni, Head of Policy at the European Association for Storage of Energy (EASE) to talk about Europe’s emerging energy storage industry, recent legislative changes and planned projects in the EU level and Central and Eastern Europe (CEE).

We began our discussions by reflecting on the recent shake-up in the EU’s energy and climate legislative landscape following the pandemic and the war in Ukraine and what this means for the development of Europe’s battery storage industry.

“With the new electricity market design revision, there is a recognition that the way forward – the way to guarantee low prices for consumers for the industry is to go forward with renewables and storage,” Mr Tosoni tells CEENERGYNEWS. “The market design revision introduces several new provisions to address that, it really showcases that we can really go forward and not rely on fossil fuels to ensure our flexibility and security of supply.”

Mr Tosoni says that the EASE is “very happy to see that there have been political signals but also the long-term investment signals, as well as non-fossil fuel flexibility such as energy storage.”

Another key area of success is the new EU Batteries Regulation, he says. “It is a topic that we worked on for so many years – 2018, 2019, we were still talking about battery directive, not regulation. I think the legal clarity it gives, the investment signals it gives, all the new opportunities it gives for repurposing and remanufacturing – all of this will open up doors for the European battery storage system value chains.”

With a new government set to be formed in Poland, we also asked Mr Tosoni about what this could mean for the battery storage industry in the biggest economy in CEE. “The previous Polish National Energy and Climate Plan, although with several significant shortcomings, had also some interesting provisions related to energy storage and correctly identified renewables and energy storage as interlinked solutions. So I am optimistic. I am aware that Polish policymakers aim at ensuring that the country’s transition is a just transition – I believe that investing in the energy storage industry and energy storage deployment contributes enormously to this.”

EASE’s Head of Policy also expressed hope for a quicker coal phase-out in the country, citing Poland’s “incredibly high” potential in green energy, in particular, if the tools provided by the EU are used adequately to utilise this potential.

Obstacles and legislative gaps ahead

Conversely, we asked Mr Tosoni about the main concerns most frequently raised by EASE’s members in recent months and years. Whilst the market for short-duration energy storage systems has matured, there are still “big challenges” for the medium and longer-term storage systems, he highlights – adding that demand for this technology is already present now and will “dramatically” increase in the future. A big obstacle to this solution is their bankability and lack of overall investments, he tells us. “We are seeing specific initiatives in the US, we understand that EU legislators are aware of that.”

Looking further into the legislative gaps, Mr Tosoni says that many members that also operate outside Europe are raising the importance of energy storage targets, which is mostly missing in Europe, aside from selective countries like Spain and Italy.

“A specific energy storage strategy – with targets – is what could showcase the political commitment and trajectory of the industry according to the policymakers. We see this work so well in California, where it is called a ‘mandate’ – it is really a needed step,” he emphasises. The European Parliament has requested for the European Commission to develop such a strategy, the EASE’s Head of Policy added.

Making storage cheaper

It is often said that in order to fully utilise the potential of renewables, energy storage is a must – but storage must also become cheaper. Taking this into account, we asked about steps that could or are already being taken towards making storage cheaper. “If we are looking in the short-term, the solutions are there, it’s more about scaling up in some cases. The legislation, from an industrial perspective, can give a push for a dramatic decrease in price, which we are already witnessing, says Mr Tosoni.

“In terms of less mature solutions, for example, energy storage for the industry, here it is a matter of giving them visibility. We also definitively do not have enough pilots for solutions that may already have quite a high technology readiness level, but for which marketisation is still an issue, and as I said before – not enough support schemes. As seen with other green technologies, we need a gentle push to untap their potential.”

Separately, Mr Tosoni noted a lack of societal awareness that had accompanied battery storage for many years. “I think the new legislation really tackles that – we really have the tools to showcase to consumers and policymakers that it is a green solution.”

What can we expect in CEE?

Turning our attention back to Central and Eastern Europe, we asked Mr Tosoni about the EASE’s projects related to the region. In the past five years, EASE has predominantly worked on the EU level, he tells us.

“Admittedly, there was so much work on the European level that it was hard to focus on the implementation part [in individual member states]… This will change. I know that in the next five years, we will – and we will have to – engage with the associations and stakeholders that are active on the national level because implementation really matters,” Mr Tosoni tells CEENERGYNEWS. He further underlined that in the implementation phase, coherence is important, coupled with the sharing of best practices among EU countries.

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