On February 10th, the NEA released its “Guiding Opinions on Energy Development for 2017” (2017年能源工作指导意见). In the context of broader targets laid out in the 13th Five Year Plan, the document represents a more detailed outline of development goals for 2017. In particular, the "Guiding Opinions" fleshes out the main tasks and goals for subordinate agencies to implement over the upcoming year, in line with the CPC’s strategic "energy revolution" initiative promoting a coordinated international cooperation advancing energy supply, systems, technology and consumption known as“Four Revolutions, One Cooperation" (四个革命、一个合作).
"Guiding Opinions" mentions energy storage several times as a key technology to develop in the upcoming year. In particular, the NEA identifies energy storage in the following sections:
"Strengthen and Reinforce Weaknesses in the Energy System"
The NEA calls for the need to increase peaking services and increase the grid system’s operating efficiency, through ameliorating power infrastructure bottlenecks and optimizing system-wide adjust-ability and flexibility. To this end, the NEA promotes establishing an ancillary services market and compensation system along with accelerating the use of natural gas peaker plants. They also call for increased trials in fast-response coal power equipment, and promote continuing energy storage project demonstrations.
"Upgrade Energy Technology Equipment"
In this section the NEA identifies key technologies such as nuclear, renewable energy, shale gas, coalbed methane, gas turbines, and high temperature materials used in offshore oil and gas exploration. Additionally, they propose increase application of thermal solar storage uses and large-scale storage systems in conjunction with distributed energy systems.
The NEA also raises the need for establishing a strong standards body to guide the emerging “Internet+” Smart Energy field, electric vehicle charging, solar power generation, and energy storage industries.
As part of energy substitution methods to decrease pollution and quality of life, the NEA mentions the need for improvements in peak and off-peak electricity pricing mechanisms in conjunction with encouraging adoption of energy storage and heat storage.
"Specific Engineering Tasks"
While this section consists of numerical targets implementing gas peaker plants, pumped hydro stations, and inter-province transmission and distribution tasks, the NEA is more cautious with energy storage, where instead of setting a numerical capacity mandate, rather lists off several key projects under construction with plans to finish within the year.
The 2017 "Guiding Opinions" in contrast with the the 2016 edition does not mention specific battery chemistries but sets more specific goals including the call for a standards body, and a more clearly defined potential and need for energy storage in peaking services and distributed energy resources. The 2016 edition called for developments in large-scale energy storage, in particular for all vanadium redox flow batteries, but was less clear regarding the role energy storage can play in the grid. Compared to 2016, the 2017 "Guiding Opinions" does show some evolution of the NEA's thinking regarding the technology. This year, a "Guiding Opinions" focused specifically on Energy Storage development is also expected.