Energy storage continues to make waves across the energy industry. With the surge in renewable generation projects being unveiled globally, energy storage facilities offer a means to capture and store energy for peak usage periods.

Fundamentally, bolstering energy storage capacity helps increase grid resiliency and is expected to become a vital component of the energy system of tomorrow.

A key aspect of this is smaller-scale battery storage systems, often co-located with smaller renewable assets such as solar at electric vehicle (EV) charging stations. As one can imagine, the combination of producing renewable energy via solar, which is then stored in a battery energy storage system (BESS) to be then used to fuel an EV chargepoint, is perhaps a prime example of how these technologies can create somewhat of a microgrid or circular economy.

To learn more about how energy storage can support and even enhance EV charging systems, Solar Power Portal speaks with Elodie Hestin, energy storage marketing manager at Socomec.

How could energy storage empower EV charging infrastructure?

In the last few years, we have had many requests for energy storage linked with EV charging. We have small systems, and we have had some requests for storage within buildings because they have PV on the rooftop and charging at the back. But this is only sometimes worth it. When they have just EV chargers, it doesn’t entirely make sense to have energy storage systems. However, by getting known by the chargepoint operators (CPOs), we started to get into more discussions about EV charging stations on motorways and some fully isolated locations.

What helped us a lot was the subsidies that were given in Europe. They provide subsidies for installing EV charging stations quickly and in locations with no grid or very few grids. This is where storage makes sense because if they don’t have the grid, they must wait years to get it. By putting storage in place, they can handle the subsidies by installing the system, making it operate, and then maybe removing the storage system if the grid has been developed.

What are some of the opportunities with this? Equally, what are some of the challenges?

We see the opportunities in Northern Europe, such as Sweden and the Netherlands, and in Southern Europe, such as Spain, Italy, and France. We’ve had discussions in the UK and Germany.

Regarding challenges, the first would be to find the proper usage of people for the charger. If you don’t change this or don’t have any intelligence around it, then it’s not worth it. Another challenge is the installation of a charger in rural locations. In rural areas, there is sometimes a lack of a grid or infrastructure; in this case, you need to have solar-plus-storage for the charging station.

That has also proven to be difficult because you have to size the PV correctly so that it is enough to ensure the charging station is operable in the wintertime. That has proven to be very difficult, too, because there are clouds meaning they are not working at maximum efficiency.

With the rate at which EVs are being adopted, what would this mean for the system’s future? That’s a bit of a question.

Is this an opportunity for EV charging and energy storage to work in harmony with one another?

It depends on mandatory things. In some locations, depending on the size of the parking and the commercial building, there is an obligation to put solar PV carports in. At the same time, there are obligations for EV chargers. Then, the business model comes to mind.

Just bringing storage for PV integration might not be sufficient. Allowing it to do some frequency regulation or other services could also be essential. This makes sense because of the multi-revenue stacking.

What opportunities and differences do you see between the UK/European EV markets and the US?

It is mainly the regulations and types of requests to connect to the grid and who has to pay for it. This makes a difference because if you ask for the grid connection and have to pay for it, putting a storage system in place makes more sense than if somebody pays for the connection and brings it to you.