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Energy storage race: Has the monopoly of pumped-storage in Europe come to an end?

Gaudard, Ludovic, Madani, Kaveh
Energy policy 2019 v.126 pp. 22-29
air, batteries, electricity, energy, hydroelectric power, income, markets, monopoly, Europe
The rise of renewable energies has brought a new challenge in terms of the management of their intermittency. Pumped-storage hydroelectricity has served as the large-scale solution to the intermittency problem. However, flawed European spot markets and innovation are jeopardizing the future of this technology. This paper: 1) estimates historic revenues of 96 energy storage installations on 17 European electricity spot markets, 2) assesses how arbitrage revenue has evolved, and 3) compares the present value of new energy technologies (compressed air, batteries) with pumped-storage in energy-only markets. Results show that market openings to competition had led to revenue drops and convergence: all markets generate low income. Based on the findings: 1) energy storage requires revenue from other markets than spot ones 2) compressed air energy storage is competitive with pumped-storage, and 3) markets value daily pumped-storage installations rather than seasonal, where this technology keeps a technical comparative advantage. It means the current best pumped-storage installation design could not be the long-term one. We also highlight that further research should investigate if interconnection, a natural monopoly, competes with energy storage, which is open to competition.