French utility company EDF aims for 100% carbon-free power by 2050, plans energy storage push in addition to 30 GW of solar

April 4th, 2018 by  Clean Technica

French utility company EDF has a goal of 100% carbon-free power by 2050. Energy storage will be a big part of achieving that goal. The company already has 5 gigawatts of installed grid-scale storage, but plans to increase that to 15 gigawatts by 2035. Adding the extra 10 gigawatts of storage called for by its new Energy Storage Plan will cost about $10 billion.

EDF grid scale energy storage

Credit: EDF

The plan is designed to allow EDF to keep pace with competitors such as Enel, E.ON, and Total. Of those 10 gigawatts, 6 will be industrial-scale projects that include pumped hydro storage and batteries. 4 gigawatts will consist of individual batteries for retail customers, companies, and municipalities, according to a report by Reuters.

In announcing its new battery storage initiative, the company said it is focusing on all segments of the energy storage market “to help ensure the smooth running of a balanced electricity system, for residential customers, businesses and countries.” The EDF Group is particularly interested in becoming a leader in residential storage and self-consumption services in France and Europe, according to Green Tech Media.

Jean-Bernard Lévy, EDF’s CEO and chairman, told the press at the time the new plan was announced, “Electricity storage technologies have a potential to radically change the energy sector. EDF’s Electricity Storage Plan is based on the expertise coming from all entities within our Group and 25 years of investment in R&D.”

His company took the wraps off another renewable energy program last year when it announced it would invest €25 billion to construct 30 gigawatts of solar capacity in France between 2020 and 2035. Together, the two initiatives “confirm EDF’s ability to enable a competitive ecosystem in order to make our carbon-free future a reality.” EDF currently gets much of its energy from nuclear power plants. Until recently, France was a major supporter of nuclear power but its ardor has cooled somewhat in recent years as the cost of operating them has risen while the cost of natural gas and renewables has fallen.

EDF also has an eye on the electricity market in Africa, where it plans to add 1.2 million off-grid customers by 2035. Off-grid “behind the meter” systems are especially popular in Africa, where more than half the population does not have access to a conventional utility grid. The company already has 15,000 solar and storage systems in the Ivory Coast and plans to expand its service into Ghana. According to GTM Research, “behind the meter” storage will rival utility-scale systems in total deployed capacity by 2022. The trend toward small-scale residential and commercial storage is gaining momentum in Europe and elsewhere around the globe as battery prices continue to decline.