National Grid will reveal the winning bids this week for one of the world’s biggest battery storage projects, providing back-up power to keep Britain’s lights on. Thirty-seven companies have submitted bids for the scheme to supply 200 megawatts (MW) of power, mainly using utility-scale battery arrays. The winners will be announced on Friday. The battery arrays will help to manage peaks and troughs in UK electricity production because of the nation’s increasing reliance on volatile wind and solar power. “This is a new service that is being developed to improve management of the system,” National Grid said. Bidders include America’s AES, RWE of Germany and the British company RES as well as Japanese players, according to sources familiar with the discussions. Intermittent renewables supplied 25 per cent of electricity last year. With the closure of a string of agei ng coal-fired and nuclear power stations, the UK power grid is increasingly reliant on windy or sunny weather. Two hundred megawatts is roughly equivalent to the power produced by more than a million iPhone-sized lithium-ion batteries, according to AES. The US company is building a 100 MW battery array in Los Angeles, the biggest in the world so far. The batteries are charged up during the day using electricity generated by solar power farms in the deserts of southern California and Nevada. This is then available to satisfy peak demand in the evening when Los Angelenos return home from work and switch on their appliances and air-conditioning units. National Grid views the four-year contract to supply 200 MW of electricity within five seconds at any time of day or night as a priority for Britain. At present a small number of hydro-electric stations such as Cruachan in Argyll and Dinorwig in Snowdonia provide the bulk of the nation’s back-up electricity production.The contract will be awarded in chunks of up to 50 MW to at least four different operators.
Times 22nd Aug 2016 read more »
A key criticism of renewables is intermittency of supply, with power-generating potential lying in the lap of the gods. When the wind doesn’t blow or the sun goes abroad for a few weeks, as it often does, we could be left sitting in the dark unable to boil the kettle. Scientists around the world are working hard on possible solutions, with all sorts of research into areas such as new-generation batteries. But we already possess tried and tested technology that has the potential to play a huge role in safeguarding our future energy security – hydro electric pumped storage. The technique involves using electricity to pump water from a loch to an upper reservoir during times of low power demand, allowing it to be released to generate power in high demand periods. The UK is home to just four such schemes, two of them in Scotland – at the landmark Ben Cruachan power station, on the shores of Loch Awe, and at Foyers, overlooking Loch Ness. And plans have already been set out to increase provision, with the Coire Glas development near Invergarry receiving consent nearly three years ago and proposals to more than double capacity at Ben Cruachan being explored. Experts claim it is the only electricity storage method currently capable of operating at a commercial scale. So why is nothing happening? The main barriers are cash. Investors are being put off by a lack of clarity with regard to policy and regulation, according to industry body Scottish Renewables. Scottish energy minister Paul Wheelhouse is today visiting Foyers to highlight the huge potential of the technology. Let’s hope he can persuade his Westminster counterparts to end the ongoing uncertainty over renewables development and seize this opportunity to benefit the planet and our economy to the estimated tune of more than £1 billion.
Scotsman 23rd Aug 2016 read more »
The business case for energy storage is being undermined by many uncertainties within the burgeoning sector, such as limited revenue streams and grid services contract availability, according to new research from renewable energy purchaser and supplier SmartestEnergy. The ‘Making the case for battery storage’ survey consulted 45 battery storage innovators exploring the barriers they face to commercialisation in the build-up to the National Grid’s first 200MW Enhanced Frequency Response (EFR) auction this week. The biggest challenges for respondents were the limited revenue streams currently available to secure the battery capacity required for the “smart power revolution”, and the length of grid services contracts available which are currently deemed too short to meet lender requirements. SmartestEnergy suggested that National Grid should reassure developers by increasing the availability of contracts in order to exploit substantial amounts of storage capacity. SmartestEnergy’s demand side management vice president Robert Owens said: “It’s clear that the current EFR capacity in isolation will not be enough to unlock the full potential of batteries, so developers need to know what’s next for the projects that won’t win an EFR contract in this auction.
Edie 22nd Aug 2016 read more »