The use of energy storage to increase renewables integration and provide stability to the grid requires the removal of regulatory barriers, rather than increased direct funding, according to one expert on the German market.

Professor Michael Sterner, an expert on energy storage, echoed the general theme of the morning session at the Energy Storage Europe conference in Düsseldorf today when he said that changes in the way renewables, energy storage and related technologies can assist a move away from centralised energy networks and towards a more localised, lower emissions-based infrastructure needed to be recognised at the regulatory level, in Germany and elsewhere.

Sterner also said that for storage to work as a flexible resource for electricity networks, a number of storage technologies must be considered, as well as how they can interact with one another. In other words, he said, even the decentralised energy network of the future will require some “centralised” components - network expansion or upgrades, and energy storage.

Sterner, from the Technical University of Regensburg, was referring to the possibility of using power-to-gas and power-to-liquid storage and other storage technologies in conjunction with electricity storage in batteries.

So-called “cross-sectoral energy storage” would, he said, open up more possibilities for the sector.

Professor Eicke Weber of Fraunhofer ISE, who is also head of the German energy storage association BVES and acted as conference chair for the morning session, described the transition to a low carbon energy system as “the biggest task of our generation“.

“The future energy system will look fundamentally different, with wind and solar at its core,” Weber said.

Weber said energy storage has received too little attention over the last 10 years or so, but that this picture is changing quickly. The cost of batteries is currently “much too high“, he said, but this too is changing.

Weber cited the example of California, where factors including the scaling up of deployment have brought the price of some batteries down to as little as US$150 per kilowatt-hour, while in Europe an equivalent battery could still cost as much as US$1,000 per kwh.

“The most important tool to bring down cost is the market,” Weber said, adding that he was very confident battery prices would fall significantly over the next two years.

A full account of the first day of Energy Storage Europe is available on PV Tech STorage, here.