What’s the future for energy management and storage?

By Chris Rowland of Ovesco

If you visited our own local energy guru’s SuperHome in September, you’ll know that Nick Rouse has installed a Tesla battery to manage electricity generated from his rather large 5.9KW PV array and to help power his electric car. The battery allowed Nick’s house to supply his entire electricity needs and on top of that, export to the grid this summer. What Nick installs today, we’ll all be installing over the next decade!

 

Sadly, Nick is currently recovering at home from a cycling accident (we need more cycling paths), otherwise I would have asked him to employ his technical knowhow to write this article about the talks given last week at Cooksbridge Hall on ‘Energy Storage and the Transition to a Sustainable Economy’, which was organised by The Green Growth Platform & Brighton University. The speakers were Joy Aloor (left), Head of Power Technologies at Siemens PTI, David Middleton from Origami Energy & Thomas Maidonis, an Energy Economist at National Grid.

What I learnt was mostly good but challenging news for the future of our energy supply. The good news is that renewable power generated more than half of the UK’s electricity for the first time ever at midday on Wednesday 7th June 2017. A decade ago you might have been mocked in our local paper by some for installing solar PV panels, but now PV is on its way to reaching ‘Grid Parity’ and is already the cheapest form of electricity in some parts of the world.

The challenges and opportunities were highlighted by all the speakers at Cooksbridge. The new problem is what do we do with all that renewable energy if it’s generated when we don’t use it? The answer is, obviously, to store the energy and release it when we need it. Joy Aloor from Siemens PTI listed various options which included batteries, but also pumped storage, compressed air, hydrogen fuel and fly wheels. It’s particularly important to think about storage when considering a low carbon transport system for the future. If we are all going to have electric cars (EV’s), as well as low carbon goods transport and public transport, we are going to need new low-cost ways to store energy. Thomas Maidonis from National Grid said there could be up to 9m EVs by 2030 and this could add ~ 6% to electricity demand on an annual basis in the UK. Think about everyone driving home for work and plugging in their EV’s in the evening; that’s going to cause a problem for the National Grid! So, we are going to have to manage our future electricity demand. David Middleton from Origami said the grid in Lewes/Newhaven is already very constrained. UKPN who manage our local electricity supply recently put out a request for expressions of interest to look at ways to manage the Lewes/Newhaven electricity demand.

All of this means there are changes coming, and with them opportunities for new business models to make the transition to our low carbon future. To sum up, renewable energy is here to stay, we need to store electricity and we need to manage energy wisely.