The Spanish Government approves the Energy Storage Strategy, key to ensuring supply security and lower energy prices

Following the Ministry for the Ecological Transition and Demographic Challenge (MITECO) proposal, the Council of Ministers has approved the Energy Storage Strategy, which will support the deployment of renewable energies and be key to guaranteeing the security, quality, sustainability and economy of the supply.

Energy storage systems are key to ensuring the transition to an emissions-neutral economy and the effective integration of renewables into the system, as they allow energy to be saved when there is a surplus, for later use when the renewable resource is scarce or when demand is high.

Vice-president and minister for the Ecological Transition and Demographic Challenge, Teresa Ribera, has reiterated that storage “enables the perfect integration of renewable technologies into the system, rather than having to rely on a backup capacity equivalent to the renewable energy available to us. As a result, we will be able to use the surplus energy produced when there is a lot of sunshine or high winds, at times when there is little sun and wind”.

This Strategy positions us at the forefront of what is taking place in Europe. Spain is an energy island, which compels us to take steps to meet out climate neutrality commitment”, comments Ribera.

Applications

These technologies provide the system with flexibility and stability, enabling it to address the variability and partial predictibility of renewable technologies and avoid the loss of clean energy when capacity is available to generate more renewable energy than that which can be consumed, for its subsequent use.

Storage contributes to the management of the power grids, fosters citizens’ participation in the change of energy model and allows greater competition and integration in the electricity market. It furthermore helps job creation, the economic recovery, the strengthening of domestic industry, the development of R&D+i and improves opportunities in Fair Transition areas.

These technologies can be applied to new niche businesses such as e-mobility or in the building sector through electric self-consumption and thermal energy storage. In turn, this leads to the emergence of new solutions in buildings, which also act as an indirect structural measure to combat energy poverty. Similarly, they can be used in industry, where there is a strong potential for self-consumption with storage, energy integration and the decarbonisation of processes that use heat and cold; as well as in all other sectors, through many applications including self-consumption.

Storage technologies foster the development of new business models such as independent aggregators and renewable energy communities, thereby stimulating the active role of the consumers by giving them direct participation in how they manage their energy.

Towards climate neutrality

The Strategy quantifies the storage needs to help decarbonise the energy system in line with the provisions of the 2021-2030 National Integrated Energy and Climate Plan (NECP), which sets out to reach climate neutrality by 2050. This includes using the energy available in the electric vehicle stock (26 GWh per year by 2030), the additional storage capacity behind-the-meter (with a minimum of 400 MW in 2030), as well as the utility-scale storage provided by CSP plants.

The document envisages the availability of a total capacity of some 20 GW by 2030, including the 8.3 GW of storage available today and around 30 GW of storage by 2050. These capacities consider both utility-scale and distributed storage that will be covered by a range of daily and seasonal systems. “We have to look for the best way of integrating this capacity in the system, both at technical level and by facilitating the deployment of this technology through regulation”, comments Ribera.

The Strategy, which forms part of the series of actions designed to achieve the objectives established in the NECP and in the 2050 Long-Term Decarbonisation Strategy, includes 10 lines of action and 66 measures. These address aspects such as the participation of energy storage in the energy system; the circular economy and energy communities to generate spaces for citizens’ participation; boosting renewable hydrogen; the development of new business models such as second-life batteries; training for professionals to enhance the Fair Transition; the use of storage as a basis for technological development on the islands and in off-grid areas; stimulating R&D+i; promoting employment; and the elimination of administrative hurdles to facilitate initiatives and projects.

The document addresses every aspect relating to the deployment of energy storage, including the emergence of new models and the role of the citizen, as well as considering environmental aspects and the particular energy vulnerability of the islands.

Looking to the longer term, the Strategy offers an integrated analysis of the energy system. It defines a series of measures to effectively deploy energy storage and its full integration into the system, in addition to identifying the aspects on which to focus R&D efforts to make the necessary technologies available. It also analyses the challenges that lie ahead and the opportunities that its implementation offers, with a particular emphasis on the value chain.

Different technologies

The document identifies an extensive range of storage technologies. Pumped hydro plants are worth mention, because of their maturity, which allow water to be pumped up into high level tanks, releasing it to produce electricity when there is increased demand; and batteries, which are particularly important both due to their application in e-mobility and in self-consumption systems for dwellings and businesses, where, combined with solar panels, they can store the surplus power for use at times when the sun is not shining. Moreover, their application is important at utility-scale through hybridisation with renewable generation plants.

In this regard, thermal storage systems key players, whose applications can be found, among others, in CSP plants, where heat is stored in molten salts tanks at a high temperature for its subsequent use in electricity production. The storage capacity offered by CSP plants is able to adapt production to demand (dispatchability) and reduce renewable dumping. Spain benefits from an unquestionable position of leadership in this technology.

One of the most innovative storage systems to mention is renewable hydrogen. This will play a key role in reducing the emissions of sectors that are hard to decarbonise, such as high temperature industrial processes and multiple conventional transport mediums, including light and heavy vehicles, buses and trains. Spain already has a “Hydrogen Road Map: a commitment to renewable hydrogen” to foster its deployment.

The opportunities of storage

In addition to the advantages it represents for the energy system, storage fosters job creation, economic activity and innovation in the new territories in which it is implemented, meaning that it can bring major benefits to Fair Transition areas. The document contemplates measures to make use of these synergies, in particular the promotion of storage projects in these territories to take advantage of their endogenous resources. This will help to reduce the socio-economic impact of closing power plants, coal mining and nuclear power stations.

Circular economy

The document contextualises the Strategy within the national and international framework, undertaking a technical analysis of the energy storage systems and solutions, and examines its value chain. It highlights the importance of accessing a competitive, innovative national industry, which brings high added value to every level of storage, from the supply of raw materials and basic components, to the development and manufacture of technologies, up to the provision of every type of services by means of new business models, whose approach is based on the circular economy.

Recovery plan

One of the main pillars of the Recovery, Transformation and Resilience Plan is the green transition. The primary aim of item 8 of the policy lever “Fair and inclusive energy transition” is to equip the energy system with flexibility, and energy storage is one of the key elements to achieve this. The Strategy serves as a guide for the objectives and reforms of this component.

Public participation

The Strategy was approved after a public participation process that included a prior public consultation, in which a consultation with agents took place over five thematic seminars, in addition to a public consultation on the draft Strategy. Its final draft has taken into account the analysis and evaluation of the contributions made throughout the entire process.