Reaching its peak: Energy storage’s potential

By: Catherine Hunter

The battery storage market across Europe is developing at break-neck speed. The continent expects to increase its production capability 20-fold in the next seven years. Northvolt is a well-known example of a gigafactory expected to come online in Europe, but it will not be the only one. Some estimates suggest Europe will have ten gigafactories, but this could only be the start. And Europe isn’t the only region pursing the battery revolution. Globally, battery investment is set to soar.

And the battery supply chain is not just growing its capacity; it is developing new products too. Innovation in energy storage is rife, with developments of the current go-to favourite lithium-ion batteries, as well as exploration into other battery compositions taking place. Innovations include reducing the amount of cobalt used in batteries, increasing silicon in the anode, and more radical concepts such as solid-state batteries.

Whether the future lies in solid-state batteries, lithium-ion batteries or something new yet to be invented, one thing is certain; the battery storage market will continue to grow and develop over the coming years.

And with innovation and proliferation of technologies comes competition and complexity. Which tech is the best fit for where and which use cases? Why this company and not the next?

This innovative, fledgling sector has strong support from governments too, who are keen to accelerate the take-up of battery storage as a way to support renewable integration and reduce carbon emissions to meet legally binding targets. But this isn’t enough to ensure your success. For every funding pot available, you need to show why your solution will work and how it helps to reach our decarbonisation targets while standing out from the crowd. Then, you also need to convince customers to buy your products. The value of the innovation needs to extend past just kWh savings and into tangible value for the customer.

This is when the engineers step back (and start working on the next innovation) and the comms professionals step forward.

Business change doesn’t happen overnight and so a sustained and pertinent message is key – just look at the smart meter rollout and the challenges required in getting customers to change their habits. This is a minor change in how bills are calculated – requiring less human involvement – and not a fundamental shift in market operation and offering increasingly competitive procurement of grid services.

Technical information needs to be distilled into understandable chunks, key selling points need to be sold as part of the wider energy transition and innovations need to be understood in how they integrate the grid – it’s more than simple media relations or technical content – it’s a whole-system approach to the media landscape.

One thing is for sure, the demand for batteries is only set to grow as we electrify transport and decarbonise the grid, so focus needs to be placed on building a communications plan that’s charged and ready to cut through the competition to lead on delivering the energy mix of tomorrow.

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