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Solar Energy Storage: The Key to Installing Solar Generation on a 1940s Grid


Solar energyFeed-in tarrifs were recently created by the UK government to ensure targets are met and that by 2020, 15% of the UK energy’s supply will be made up of renewable energy. This has pushed solar to become one of the fastest-growing renewable energy sectors.

The integration of renewable energy sources, such as solar, is a critical step to reach our ambitions in the UK for a low carbon economy. However, the root cause of the issue is the current grid’s centralised model, often limited to one-way power flow and preventing the two-way distribution of power back on the grid—required to incorporate alternative energy. The solution to this problem is a modern smart grid.

Unlike a power plant, there is no option to simply ‘switch the sun on’ when there is a peak in energy demand. Renewables help provide an efficient energy supply, but for an effective grid to run, the energy needs to be managed well and, more importantly, stored in a protected environment. In the UK, energy storage has been recognised by OFGEM as a viable solution with Imperial College London reporting that it could generate savings of up to £10bn per year.

The most recent innovation in the energy sector is Community Energy Storage (CES): a battery-based system that positions discrete amounts of utility-controlled storage at the grid’s edge. CES solutions provide reliable backup power for communities, integration of renewable energy sources and better voltage control.

At S&C Electric Company, we recently worked with Scottish and Southern Energy Power Distribution on a new pilot energy storage project. Based at the SSEPD eco-home project, ‘Zero Carbon Homes’ in Slough, UK, the pilot consists of three 25 kWh lithium-ion batteries connected at a strategic point on the low voltage network. The batteries are being utilised to spread demand and generation loads at different times throughout the day. During the pilot, SSEPD will model and analyse the benefits that energy storage can provide to a low voltage network. The aim of the project is also to provide further evidence that community energy storage can perform the same function as a traditional reinforcement and how there is an economic case for installing energy storage systems.

With CES’ potential to use renewable power more reliably, efficiently and intelligently, we envisage that communities can benefit from taking a microcosmic approach to resource management. S&C has developed an array of cutting-edge technologies to generate low carbon energy. The storage of electricity is an important technology that will revolutionise the way we feed solar energy in to our grid.

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