At S&C we work with organisations across the world and have offices in different regions. As such we get to see who is leading, who is following and who is about to surpass other markets with sudden investment.
In the UK, the government has committed to renewable energy making up 15% of the UK’s energy supply by 2020, but we’re currently a long way off, so how do we achieve this? There has been a dramatic increase in renewable investment in the UK in the last five years. An extensive eco-system has grown to ensure optimisation in foundation and installation techniques as well as layout efficiency, but the energy optimisation is missing. Without energy storage and the optimisation this enables, the 15% target is much harder to reach.
In the UK, storage is recognised by OFGEM and the Electricity Storage Network as a viable solution and this works well in the U.S. but the British government is not assigning the resources required to modernise the national grid. Not only does energy storage benefit the consumer and ensure efficiency of renewable energy and therefore winning public support of renewables, but it leads to a decrease in overall energy production.
The US is already ahead of the UK in the storage game. For example, PNM Resources in New Mexico have deployed a 750-kW S&C PureWave® Storage Management System (SMS). The PNM Prosperity Energy Storage Project can produce 500 kilowatts of power and uses high-tech batteries to create firm and dispatchable energy derived from a renewable energy source.
As a demonstration project, installations similar to the one at PNM are essential to evaluate how energy storage solutions can be applied to meet the nation’s energy goals. The UK is starting to use this kind of technology. Scottish and Southern Electric have a number of projects including those at Nairn and the Shetland Islands. Other pilot projects exist at UK Power Networks’ wind farm in Hemsby, Norfolk and there are further planned, but we need to see more demonstration projects and more government backing.
With the UK investment in renewables set to continue, storage is on the front-burner of the technology discussion. For utilities, storage can be used to shift supply patterns more accurately and improve reliability. For renewable contractors, it enables predictability and new business opportunities in energy trading.
There has been relatively little investment and innovation in UK energy storage in the last decade, but this has changed dramatically in the last two to three years, with greater standardisation, lower costs and more scalability. Over the next five years we will see rapid private investment, but we need government support to ensure the UK has the optimum national grid and storage network to enable the country to reduce its reliance on fossil fuels and ensure optimisation of our energy system.