EDF plans €8 billion investment into energy storage

French state-owned energy company, EDF, is making a big play to become a leader in the burgeoning electricity storage market.

The developer, best known for managing France’s large number of nuclear power plants, now plans to invest €8 million in storage technology between 2018 and 2035.

This would help it become a frontrunner in the European market, one many in the energy industry have high hopes for as renewables increase in prominence.

“With storage we can smooth out the intermittence of renewable energy and guarantee the balancing of power grids,” EDF’s chief executive Jean-Bernard Levy recently told reporters.

EDF’s plans amount to 10 gigawatts of new storage capacity worldwide within the next 20 years. This includes 6 GW of large, industrial sized storage such as pumped storage and batteries. 4 GW will be for use by retail customers and companies, according to the Reuters news agency.

The company is also pouring €70 million into power storage research and development up to 2020. Further details of how the €8 billion would be spent have not been made clear though.

Energy storage has shown increasing promise in both Europe and the US over the past year alone. Forecasts predictthe US market to triple in 2018, with 1,233 megawatt hours of grid-connected storage ready to be installed.

The UK’s National Grid also sees a strong role for battery storage to help meet the demands of new renewable capacity. The company contracted 200 megawatts of new battery projects in 2016, which are now being developed. EDF was one of the main winners in that auction, having won the right to build a 49MW project worth £12 million in Nottinghamshire.

EDF states that once it is completed this summer it will one of the largest projects of its kind in Europe.

Quantitative analysis manager at National Grid, Leon Walker, recently commented that: "Using battery storage is a significant development for managing the national grid. It's an ultra-fast way of keeping electricity supply and demand balanced”.

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