EVs pushing battery prices down and ESS to pave way for next phase of energy transition, reveals GlobalData

Energy storage systems (ESS) installations linked to the electricity grid and ancillary services will witness rapid growth in the coming two to three years because of their increasing number of applications and the falling cost of systems due to electric vehicle (EV) development. Key drivers are increased variable renewables integration, rising energy demand, asset retirements and smart digital technology innovation, says GlobalData, a leading data and analytics company. ESS is expected to serve as a crucial hub for the entire electricity grid – right from managing power during peak load periods, enabling energy management, and boosting the quality and reliability of power; to helping decrease environmental impacts.

GlobalData’s latest report, ‘Thematic Research: Energy Storage Systems (ESS)’, highlights that the potential applications of ESS have gained the attention of a number of stakeholders across the value chain, paving the way for the next phase of the energy transition. Energy storage is serving as a major enabler of a smarter grid, and battery energy storage systems (BESS) provide a broad range of primary and ancillary services and functions for grid operators.

Sneha Susan Elias, Senior Power Analyst at GlobalData, comments: “Lithium-ion (Li-ion) batteries are emerging as a frontrunner among the battery energy storage technologies. The increasing growth of EVs resulted in advancements in Li-ion technologies and a steady decline in the prices of lithium-based batteries. As battery costs continue to fall, grid-scale energy storage will eventually displace existing natural gas peaker plants.

“In future, grid-scale storage will also play a key role in balancing networks. Renewable generation is notoriously intermittent. Energy supply must become more dynamic to accommodate this intermittency. Coal and nuclear cannot ramp up and down sufficiently fast; only natural gas and batteries have the capability to provide back-up power.”

Along with Li-ion batteries, sodium-ion and redox flow batteries are also promising technologies for the future.

Elias continues: “Solid state batteries are inching closer to commercialization. They will reduce batteries’ flammability, liability to short circuit, and substantially increase the number of charging cycles. While Li-ion batteries have gained more popularity than other battery energy storage technologies, with wide-scale deployment in EVs and electricity grids, the introduction of graphene can help revolutionize the way batteries are utilized and enhance their market potential. Graphene will make these batteries more lightweight, durable, applicable in high-capacity energy storage, and enable them to charge more rapidly.”

Battery factories across the world have scaled up for the production of batteries for electric vehicles. This fall in battery prices has hastened the economic viability of battery energy storage and hastened the deployment of energy storage projects globally. However, the COVID-19 pandemic has brought about supply constraint, which has had an impact on the global EV markets along with energy storage projects, causing project delays or rise in cost. And this situation disagrees with conventional narrative about grid storage projects and EVs reaping benefits from steady decrease in battery price.

Elias adds: “When it comes to battery energy storage, China’s BYD has been a key supplier for the UK energy storage markets, and hence the company’s production losses in Q1 2020 could damage British developers. Also, in Australia, BYD has been involved in a number of energy storage projects in the pipeline, which will also affect this country.

“Globally, carmakers are looking for independence from the current supremacy of Chinese battery manufacturers and aiming to secure their battery supply chains. The industry’s overdependence on China has been showcased recently with the COVID-19 outbreak leading to disruptions in the supply of components. China itself is expected to take a beating on production of around one million vehicles.

“The outbreak has impacted the stock prices of major Chinese battery manufacturers and automakers. EV maker BYD’s share as of June 15, 2020, has devalued by 12% since February 25, 2020. Shares of state-owned companies, SAIC Motor and Chongqing Changan Automobile Co. Ltd devalued by 25.2% and 0.8%, respectively since February 25, 2020. While, the shares of CATL has devalued by 3% since February 25, 2020, Chinese auto start-up Nio’s shares as on May 29, 2020, devalued by 23% since January 21, 2020 and has picked up towards the start of June.”

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