French national utility EDF says it plans to spend 8 billion euros ($9.8 billion) by 2035 in a move to become “the European leader” in energy storage.
EDF's goal is to develop 10 GW of storage around the world by that same timeframe. The company already operates 5 GW of storage facilities.
- In particular, EDF is targeting the residential sector in France and Europe with a variety of self-consumption services that use batteries, as well as Africa where the utility company hopes to develop a portfolio of 1.2 million off-grid customers by 2035 through local partnerships.
With the backing of its national champion, France could become the next big European market for residential energy storage.
High levels of solar penetration have made European countries such as Germany good markets for energy storage. As German solar subsidies decline, the use of batteries to shift solar power to the evening has grown increasingly attractive, leading to a robust market that has attracted energy storage players such as Panasonic, Samsung and Tesla, as well as local companies such as Bosch, Sonnenbatterie and Varta.
A December report compiled by Delta-ee for the European Association for Storage Energy forecasts that the Italian market for behind-the-meter energy storage could take off after 2021. The market will be driven by local subsidies and a strong solar market, according to the report.
EDF, which is heavily dependent on nuclear power, is trying to diversify. In December, EDF announced plans to develop 30 GW of solar plants by 2035. The move is part of a goal EDF has set to have 100% carbon dioxide free power by 2050. The company’s storage goals fit into that plan.
In order to help facilitate its zero-carbon goals, EDF is also doubling R&D investment to 70 million euros ($86 million) between 2018 and 2020. And EDF Nouveaux Business is allocating 15 million euros ($18 million) over the next two years, representing one-third of its total investments, to projects and start-ups linked to electricity storage and flexibility.
EDF’s immediate plans call for three battery storage projects, including the 49 MW West Burton, Nottinghamshire, project for National Grid in the U.K. and a second 48 MW battery at Lackenby near Middlesborough.
Overall, EDF’s plans for 10 GW of new storage projects break down to about 6 GW of utility-scale systems, such as pumped storage and batteries, and 4 GW of batteries for retail customers, companies and municipal customers.
“While this is certainly a positive development for the U.S. storage market, I don’t think this announcement would change my forecasts/projections for the market’s growth,” Alex Eller, senior research analyst at Navigant Research, told Utility Dive via email. Other large European utilities, specifically Enel and E.ON, are already very active in the U.S. market and likely have similar ambitions for growth of their storage businesses, he noted.
Enel, the Italian energy giant, last fall told Bloomberg that it is seeking energy storage acquisitions in the Americas and Europe. German energy giant E.On is developing a solar-plus-storage project in Arizona and a 2 MW battery system in Texas.