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01 July 2020

The Importance of Cost-Effective Technologies for Energy Transition

By TALENT partners RINA and CARTIF

With energy transition becoming a priority to be addressed in order to tackle climate change, the issue of the costs involved arises immediately. There is indeed a necessity to develop cost-effective technologies that can be used to allow the increase of the share of renewables sources in the grid and make Europe the first carbon-neutral continent by 2050.

One of the greatest tools to support energy transition is represented by energy storage technologies.

However nowadays energy storage is also one of the technologies that has important restrictions due to cost limitations. The main purpose of the Horizon2020 TALENT project is to contribute to a straightforward cost reduction in key power electronic components for stationary battery systems and to their integration into the grid thanks to the development of software solutions for control and smart management. This will contribute to the European challenge of becoming the first carbon-neutral continent by 2050, the main prerogative of the EU Green Deal that was presented by the European Commission in December 2019.

To pursue this challenging objective, the involvement of policymakers and representatives from the broader energy industry and a general audience such as energy consumers that can benefit from cost reductions is needed, since they have to be aware of the new technologies available and of their new role in the electricity market, also in terms of contributions to cost reduction and maximisation of TALENT technologies.

For decades, energy storage faced enormous limitation over the cost and volume of the available technologies. The economic barriers to the installation of electric storage and the energy management systems are still a considerable obstacle for the boost of these technologies. This is, by association, an impairment to the energy transition, especially in countries in which the energy expenditure of citizens still represents a high share of their total income, reflecting an overall high cost of electricity bills - among others.

Source:European Energy Poverty Index, OpenExp, 2019

From a more technical perspective, TALENT will forward the need to develop new schemes for the power supply chain, while assuring good specifications such as reliability, high performance and low maintenance needs, contributing to a competitive market at lower prices for all the stakeholders, end users included.The project brings solutions to meet these needs: innovations developed in power electronics topologies and devices for batteries, and an interoperable software will increase the flexibility of the energy system, thus enabling a faster integration of renewables in the grid. The more cost-effective these technologies are, the more competitive the prices will be for the end users and the faster the energy transition will be, ensuring however the long-term EU technological competitiveness.

Some progress has been gained now that TALENT has been running for nine months. The physical architecture is being defined by means of laying a strong emphasis on modularity and scalability concepts, as these are key to reduce the costs of power converters. Scalability is being defined following a modular approach in the topology of the power converters, as well as within the interconnections among the energy storage modules and renewable energy sources.

The software architecture is also under way. TALENT control architecture is based on the Distributed Hybridised Energy Management System (DHEMS), which has local components distributed along the grid, as well as cloud based components. The DHEMS communicates with the Battery Management Systems (BMS) and with a Virtual Power Plant (VPP) which combines the action of several DHEMS and interacts with the markets. This allows operation for hybrid plants and storage systems, and grid stability can be ensured through the increase of renewable sources penetration.

TALENT will promote the integration of battery systems aiming at increasing the share of renewable electricity to the 45% by 2050, allowing the European Industry to keep and extend its leadership in power electronics for stationary battery systems of all sizes considering conservative estimations that lead TALENT to influence 10% of the stationary battery EU market by 2030.

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