Fluence: Lithium-ion batteries can deliver six hour grid services

Kubik: you get the duration you pay for

Lithium-ion batteries will soon deliver economically viable daily storage – not just short duration bursts, according to Marek Kubik, market director at Fluence Energy.

Speaking at Aurora’s battery storage conference, Kubik claimed Fluence has 1.5GW of storage projects “awarded or operational around the world.”

He said the firm, formed by Siemens and AES, is “building systems to fit markets”. Some of those markets favour battery storage that delivers for “20-30 minutes”, said Kubik, others reward “five to six hours”.

While “technology agnostic”, he said Fluence sees lithium-ion as the “dominant technology going forward, increasingly at longer durations” due to the economies of scale arising from carmakers investing hundreds of billions of dollars in electric vehicles.

“I rebut the idea that [lithium-ion] batteries are short duration systems. We are building five-six hour systems in markets where that is rewarded,” he said.

Kubik was speaking on a panel that discussed the need for longer duration storage to enable net zero energy systems.

“I describe [lithium-ion] as daily storage. As costs fall, five to seven hour [duration] battery storage systems will be very feasible and competitive against other technologies … So it is not seasonal, but daily storage,” said Kubik.

But he suggested that renewables penetration of around 80 per cent can be enabled by such ‘daily storage’, affording other technologies “a bit longer” to mature in order to deliver the more challenging final 20 per cent required in net zero economies.

Under the right models, co-locating solar and storage could drive down system costs, said Kubik, provided services procurement is genuinely technologically neutral.

In the US, solar plus “four-to-six hour duration storage” is delivering “rock bottom prices” for system balancers, he suggested. “The economics there for long duration storage and solar with 25 year power purchase agreements are as good as you will see.”

In the UK, that has yet to materialise, said Kubik.

“Storage has dominated dynamic firm frequency response, but the real opportunity is displacing thermal generation [within ancillary services] and transmission and distribution network [investment deferral]. That is where technology neutrality is key.”

At the moment, he said, the “services in front of us in GB are short-duration services.”

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