Old energy order draws to a close amid battery storage revolution. Most revolutions are noisy, violent affairs with often destructive outcomes. But some creep up on you unawares. One such is the coming upheaval in energy supply. This promises to transform the way power is delivered to the consumer, with potentially dramatic implications for existing generators and distributors. And as if to prove the point that not all revolutions are bad, it also promises a world of much cheaper prices. Changes that began as a regulatory response to global environmental concerns have developed an unstoppable momentum, and are now much more about a transformational tech shift. The key ingredient here is the rapidly accelerating technology of battery storage. Over the last two years, battery costs have fallen 40pc, with further falls to come as economies of scale take hold. Rapid growth in the market for battery storage, forecast by Goldman Sachs to increase by a thousand-fold from $258m (£210m) last year to $258bn in 2025, should in turn remove a number of the key economic constraints on renewable forms of energy. Wind and solar are intermittent forms of energy, and hitherto have therefore required complementary back-up generation to ensure there is enough power in the grid at all times to service demand. The great promise of storage is that it should lend renewables the same “always on” characteristics of more conventional forms of power, allowing electricity to be drawn when the wind is blowing, and given out again when it is not. Paul Massara – a former chief executive of Npower who now runs his own battery storage business, North Star -says at least half of all UK households will have installed battery storage facilities within 10 years, seem at least plausible. In such a world, energy supply ceases to be the linear business of delivering power from the generator to the consumer as and when it is required, and becomes much more about smart grids and data management. There will always be a need for National Grid and the District Network Operator Companies, but they may have to radically change their charging methods from a metered usage basis to a single, all-you-can eat rental charge, to cater for this new, much more diffuse form of power provision. That’s what happened to BT. Far less certain is that there will be any need for Hinkley Point C. This will in time be seen as a phenomenally expensive and unnecessary form of power generation; Theresa May’s Government will be cursed for locking us into such ruinously high prices. Too late now.
Telegraph 4th March 2017 read more »