Amsterdam, The Netherlands --- (METERING.COM) --- September 30, 2013 - The challenges inherent to integrating renewable energy into utility power grids will be in focus at the Renewable Energy Integration & Energy Storage Conference, taking place as part of European Utility Week 2013 from October 15-17 in Amsterdam.

“Over the past decade we have seen an explosive growth of renewable energy markets,” says Elly Kreijkes, producer for the Renewable Energy Integration & Energy Storage Conference. “Supportive government policies, rising costs of conventional energy and new technology improvements have contributed to the dramatic growth levels. But with the increase of renewables comes huge logistical and technical challenges in adapting the existing infrastructure. European utilities in particular have to invest in the grids. And renewable integration is not just about hardware but also about how power markets function. There are many options available for utilities to balance variable renewables and each grid is unique so that solutions will be diverse.”

The event will bring together key industry stakeholders interested in exchanging views on policy, regulation, business models, the latest technologies and the urgent challenges the industry is facing. These include leading utilities such as Elia Group, Statkraft Markets, Fortum Distribution, TenneT, GasNatural Fenosa, E.ON, Vattenfall Europe, Dong Energy, EirGrid, GDF Suez, EDF, ESB, Alliander, Swissgrid, Red Electrica and Austrian Power Grid.  

Main challenges to renewable integration
“Variability of renewable energy systems infeed is a real challenge for system stability,” notes Hubert Lemmens, chief innovation officer of Elia Group, Belgium and a speaker at the conference. He explains: “In order to cope with this challenge, RES have to participate in delivery of system services, consumers have to be incentivized to concentrate power consumption when it is available, storage has to go down the price curve, and for the periods with low RES, biomass and gas fired plants have to fill the gap.”  

He says in order to connect all these resources at the European level, strong trans-European grids have to be built. “Public acceptance of all these infrastructures (generation, storage, transmission and distribution grids) and affordability for the EU economy are additional challenges,” states Lemmens.

Holistic view needed
Another speaker at the conference is Catarina Naucler, Nordic Smart Grid development lead at Fortum Distribution in Sweden. She states that the main renewable energy integration challenge will be for the industry “to have a holistic view of the transformation of the energy system. Investments will be needed in the whole system and subsidies in one part of the system will drive even more investments in another part. It is a challenge to fund all needed investments and a holistic view among decision makers and industry is the key.”

Role of energy storage in the future
Energy storage already plays a major role says Paul Giesbertz, head of Infrastructure and Market Policies at Statkraft Markets B.V in the Netherlands. According to him the existing hydro reservoirs in the Nordic and Alp countries are the cheapest source of flexibility. He explains: “The untapped potential in the Nordic market is still huge and further development of DC cables to the Nordic market is therefore crucial. We assess that the investment costs related to such cable projects will easily be recovered making use of price differences between the two markets, even in times when there is no need for additional flexibility.”

He continues: “At the same time, the costs of batteries are also falling, so other storage technologies will certainly kick in. However, we do not need to explicitly support the development of storage, for example by placing the responsibility for storage under the regulated domain of TSOs. The market will determine what role storage will play in the future.”

More speaker and programme highlights from the Renewable Energy Integration & Energy Storage Conference include:

  • “Towards 2020 and beyond: Developing energy markets and infrastructure for renewables”
  • Rainer Hinrichs-Rahlwes, President, European Renewable Energy Council (EREC), Belgium
  • “The concept of storage: why do we need it?”
  • Bernard Delpech, President, European Association for Storage of Energy (EASE), Vice President, EDF R&D, France
  • “Grid integration of energy storage: U.S. case studies”
  • James Newcomb, Program Director, Rocky Mountain Institute, Boulder Colorado, USA
  • World Café discussion sessions: “Renewables and integration”
  • Moderator: Jorge Tello Guijarro, Head of Active Networks and Distributed Energy Resources Integration, Gas Natural Fenosa, Spain

For more information see european-utility-week.com