Battery storage could cut electricity bills by €35m this winter if storage projects are allowed to compete in the wholesale electricity market, according to a new report published today by Energy Storage Ireland.

The Protecting Consumers report, authored by specialist energy consultants Baringa, finds that enabling battery storage projects to compete in the market at times of high electricity demand would reduce Ireland’s dependence on imported fossil fuels and help to protect Irish electricity consumers by reducing electricity prices.

Kept constantly on standby

Unlike gas generators or wind farms, for example, battery storage projects are not allowed to sell the power they store. Instead, they are kept constantly on standby to respond if there are problems on the electricity grid.

Bobby Smith, head of Energy Storage Ireland, said: “Battery storage projects are the back-up to the electricity system, helping to ensure a secure and stable electricity grid, but this report shows they can do much more.

"The current rules block battery storage projects from selling their power. This means more gas on the system and higher bills for families this Christmas. With no additional investment or structural changes needed for this, change can be actioned immediately to unlock this potential cost saving for households and businesses.”

More than 670 MW of battery storage capacity is installed across Ireland and Northern Ireland. The report shows that the current treatment of batteries by the regulatory authorities in Ireland and Northern Ireland, the CRU and UR respectively, and the Transmission System Operators (TSOs), EirGrid and SONI, restricts their effective participation in the energy market, preventing them from unlocking potential cost savings. The analysis shows that the savings would equate to €26m in Ireland and €9m in Northern Ireland from October 2022 to March 2023.

The report also finds that the TSOs could keep half of the current installed batteries on standby at times of peak electricity demand in case they are needed, and the consumer savings would still materialise.

'Simple change to their treatment'

Dr Mark Turner, partner for Baringa, said: “In a time of spiralling costs, it is crucial that the existing fleet of batteries across the island are able to operate effectively. Our analysis shows that a simple change to their treatment could unlock savings of €35 million on consumer bills this winter.”

The most common form of energy storage in Ireland is battery storage. A battery storage project uses lithium-ion batteries, the same basic technology as is used in smartphones or in laptops, to store electricity.

When there are large volumes of wind energy on the system a battery storage project stores this power and keeps it ready for when it might be needed to keep the electricity grid secure or to respond to sudden spikes in demand. The more energy storage we have on the system, storing electricity generated by wind or solar, the less we need to rely on fossil fuels.