Energy storage and sector coupling: Towards an integrated, decarbonised energy system

24-06-2019

In order to reach the goals of the Paris Agreement on climate change, the European energy system will need to become carbon-neutral by the second half of this century. However, while renewable sources of energy are key to achieving this, some of the most important renewables are variable: the output of solar and wind power depends on the time of day, the seasons and the weather. As the share of variable renewables increases, energy storage is playing an increasingly important role in bridging the gap in time between energy production and energy consumption. While the share of renewable energy in the electricity sector is growing continually, other sectors, such as transport, buildings and industry, still depend largely on fossil fuels. To decarbonise these sectors, they can either be electrified or the fossil fuels can be substituted by renewable gases such as hydrogen or renewable liquid fuels. Transformation from electricity to gases and vice versa can add further storage capacity and flexibility to the energy system. Research indicates that coupling different sectors in this way would lower the overall cost of decarbonising the energy system. The EU has reformed its electricity markets to facilitate the participation of storage in managing supply and demand, and revised the renewable energy directive to include renewable gases. When it comes to industrial policy, the EU supports initiatives for batteries and hydrogen. The debate about the pathways towards a carbon-neutral economy is ongoing, and is based on the Commission's clean planet strategy. The outcome of this debate will influence EU policies in various fields and inform the EU's low greenhouse gas emission development strategy under the Paris Agreement, which must be submitted in 2020.

In order to reach the goals of the Paris Agreement on climate change, the European energy system will need to become carbon-neutral by the second half of this century. However, while renewable sources of energy are key to achieving this, some of the most important renewables are variable: the output of solar and wind power depends on the time of day, the seasons and the weather. As the share of variable renewables increases, energy storage is playing an increasingly important role in bridging the gap in time between energy production and energy consumption. While the share of renewable energy in the electricity sector is growing continually, other sectors, such as transport, buildings and industry, still depend largely on fossil fuels. To decarbonise these sectors, they can either be electrified or the fossil fuels can be substituted by renewable gases such as hydrogen or renewable liquid fuels. Transformation from electricity to gases and vice versa can add further storage capacity and flexibility to the energy system. Research indicates that coupling different sectors in this way would lower the overall cost of decarbonising the energy system. The EU has reformed its electricity markets to facilitate the participation of storage in managing supply and demand, and revised the renewable energy directive to include renewable gases. When it comes to industrial policy, the EU supports initiatives for batteries and hydrogen. The debate about the pathways towards a carbon-neutral economy is ongoing, and is based on the Commission's clean planet strategy. The outcome of this debate will influence EU policies in various fields and inform the EU's low greenhouse gas emission development strategy under the Paris Agreement, which must be submitted in 2020.