The Vital Link to a Sustainable Energy System

By Patrick McClughan, Chief Strategy Officer at Corre Energy

Energy costs and security of supply are a staple in daily news coverage in a manner which has never been seen before. The ongoing conflict and the long overdue drive to cut carbon emissions and tackle global warming have forced crude oil prices to all- time highs and made jurisdictions across the world question their reliability on energy imports. Throughout Europe, as country after country signed up to producing at least 70% of their energy from sustainable sources, energy policy makers, suppliers and consumers have been grappling with a new energy reality.

Renewable energy – whether from wind, solar or other – is the obvious answer, but its impact is curtailed by its supply variability. When the wind blows and the sun shines, supply of renewables soars and can easily meet domestic demand. However, during periods of low wind and cloud, renewable energy supply tails off sharply.

The answer is easy in theory; a little more complex in practice: store renewable energy at times of strong wind and sun for use at a later date when supply dips. Known as long duration energy storage, it’s technology that will enable renewables to power our grids and more importantly accelerate decarbonisation. However, if nations are to meet net zero carbon targets, effective deployment of long duration energy storage is now more than ever the key link in the chain to reach that aim especially when renewables will soon be asked to guarantee supplies.

Long-duration energy storage is generally defined as any technology which can output stored energy at full capacity for longer than four hours. These solutions — some of which can store energy for weeks or months — are widely regarded as essential to decarbonisation.

Compressed Air Energy Storage (CAES) – which is being pioneered by Corre Energy – is a cost-effective solution using proven technology which promises to ‘flatten the energy supply curve’. Compressed air and green hydrogen produced by wind turbines or solar panels is stored in underground salt caverns for up to 84 hours (3.5 days) with output capacities of 320MW so that at times of peak supply gigawatt renewables can be fully integrated into grid systems before being released and converted to electricity for use at times of low supply.

Corre Energy, which is based in the Netherlands, listed on Euronext Dublin, and run by an Irish team, is the developer of Long Duration Energy Storage (LDES) projects and products, accelerating the transition to net zero and enhancing the security and flexibility of energy systems. Compressed Air Energy Storage schemes are currently in development in the Netherlands and Denmark, with plans for additional Corre Energy schemes in Germany and further afield including the US, Middle East, and Southeast Asia. We believe that the development, construction and operation of grid–scale underground renewable energy storage, coupled with the production and sale of green hydrogen can play a major role going forward.

Indeed, the recent announcement of the “REPowerEU: Joint European action for more affordable, secure and sustainable energy” laid out a pathway for the future of energy provision and use across the EU.

We warmly welcome the document’s focus on storage, the announcement of a Hydrogen Accelerator “to develop infrastructure, storage facilities and ports and replace demand for Russian gas with additional 10mt of imported renewable hydrogen.”

Reflective of the significance attached to energy storage solutions is the fact that our earliest funding came from the European Commission which designated our flagship project as a Project of Common Interest (PCI) in delivering Europe’s energy transition and decarbonisation goals. The market also supports investment in this area as evidenced by our public listing on Euronext Growth Dublin last year and also progress ringfencing EUR200m of funding from Infracapital, for our flagship Dutch project. This investment in turn is evidence of the strong interest from utilities and multinational energy companies for long term offtake agreements. Beyond CAES and hydrogen production, no other solutions exist to facilitate gigawatt scale renewables and the associated climate and economic benefits sought be economies across the globe.

As anchor members of the LDES Council, Corre Energy welcomed the recent study carried out by McKinsey entitled ‘Net zero power: Long duration energy storage for a renewable grid” as it highlights how between 25GW and 35GW of long-duration energy storage (LDES) will be installed globally worldwide by 2025, amounting to about 1TWh of energy capacity and $50bn of investment. The study finds that the lowest cost pathway to net zero power will be by deploying LDES technology. The report sums up the importance of LDES going forward very succinctly: “Short-term funding can also be seen a long-term investment that will pay off in the form of a lower-cost power system and a de-risked energy transition.” We agree.