W’Bank puts down $1bn to fund battery storage for renewable energy

The World Bank has disclosed it would commit $1 billion for a new global program to accelerate investments in battery storage for energy systems in developing and middle-income countries.

It said the program is expected to help these countries ramp up their use of renewables – particularly wind and solar power – improve energy security, increase grid stability and expand access to electricity.

The announcement was done at the One Planet Summit, but a statement from the Bank on this was obtained by OGN in Abuja. The Bank said in it that the new program will mobilize another $4 billion for investment in batteries adding that it would be a game changer for developing countries.

According to it, the $4 billion will come in as concessional climate financing and public and private investments. The program, it added aims to finance 17.5 gigawatt hours (GWh) of battery storage by 2025 – more than triple the 4 to 5 GWh currently installed in all developing countries.

“For developing countries, this can be a game changer,” the statement quoted the World Bank Group President, Jim Yong Kim, to have said.

Kim, further explained: “Battery storage can help countries leapfrog to the next generation of power generation technology, expand energy access, and set the stage for much cleaner, more stable, energy systems.”

Currently, the Bank said batteries used in energy generation systems are expensive, and most projects are concentrated in developed countries.

It added that the ‘Accelerating Battery Storage for Development’ program, in response to demand from countries, will finance and de-risk investments such as utility-scale solar parks with battery storage, off-grid systems – including mini-grids – and stand-alone batteries that can help stabilize and strengthen grids.

The program, it added, will also support large-scale demonstration projects for new storage technologies suitable for developing countries’ needs, such as batteries that are long-lasting, resilient to harsh conditions and high temperatures, and that present minimal environmental risks.

“Batteries are critical to decarbonizing the world’s power systems. They allow us to store wind and solar energy and deploy it when it’s needed most to provide people with clean, affordable, round-the-clock power,” Kim added.

He also said: “We call on our partners to join us and match the investments we’re making today. We can create new markets for battery storage in countries with high wind and solar potential, growing energy demand, and populations that still live without reliable electricity.”

Further, the statement said the World Bank Group is putting $1 billion of its own funds towards this new program and will fund-raise another $1 billion in concessional climate funds through channels such as the Climate Investment Funds’ Clean Technology Fund (CTF).

Additional $3 billion, it added would come from public and private funds and investors.

The new program will also convene a global think-tank on battery storage, bringing together national laboratories, research institutions, development agencies and philanthropies to foster international technological cooperation and training that can develop and adapt new storage solutions tailored for the needs and conditions of developing countries.

The World Bank Group equally said it has been working with countries to support the deployment of batteries together with solar and wind power for several years, with projects currently underway in Africa, South Asia, and the Pacific.

It added that it has financed roughly 15 per cent of the stationary battery storage capacity already deployed or currently under development in developing countries, mostly through mini-grid projects and in island states to improve resilience.