AES has this month announced the completion of its Energy Storage Array in Carrickfergus, Northern Ireland. The 10 MW array is now online and is the first step towards a planned 100 MW energy storage array adjacent to Kilroot Power Station, which would be among the largest in the world. AES estimates that the 100 MW array could save 123,000 tonnes CO2 per annum by displacing thermal back-up plants and facilitating the fuller integration of existing renewable generation.
The introduction of battery storage has long been seen as a game changer in the move towards a low-carbon economy. Because the supply of renewables such as wind and solar is often not in line with times of peak demand, battery storage technology enables renewable generation to be stored and released at times of higher demand, thereby reducing reliance on back-up thermal generation and so reducing costs.
In the same week, plans were announced for a battery storage demonstration project in Somerset by joint venture British Solar Renewables (BSR) and Western Power Distribution (WPD). The project, funded by Ofgem’s Network Innovation Allowance, will demonstrate the benefits of battery storage on an industrial scale at a 1.5 MW solar park and is expected to be complete by 2018.
WPD’s Innovation and Low Carbon Networks Engineer, Jenny Woodruff, said: “Finding an economical way to store renewable energy will provide security of energy supply from renewable sources. It will ensure renewables aren’t wasted, as in this case it will allow solar energy to be stored and accessed when required.”
The BSR demonstration project will be used to develop a framework for commercial agreements that could be used by future investors and developers of battery storage across the country.
While the importance of battery storage as a means of addressing renewables intermittency can clearly be seen, growth in the technology will rely on investors seeing a clear return on investment and a well-defined framework being in place.
Solar generation combined with battery storage is a strong opportunity for Mediterranean countries as a means of meeting energy security while simultaneously reducing CO2. However, austerity measures in Spain mean that battery storage is not taking off as expected. Charges have been directed at solar installations with battery storage and payments for the export of excess power to the grid have been removed. Development in the region may be reliant on economic recovery over the next few years.
Germany has seen a recent increase in investment in battery storage as well as plans for new facilities this year. Renewable generation in Germany made up approximately 28% of generating capacity last year and under Germany’s Energiewende Policy, the country has a renewables target of 80% of electricity from renewable power by 2050. Energy companies are having to provide back-up to intermittent generation via traditional fossil fuel and nuclear generation. However, further investment is being made in battery storage. A 10 MW energy storage plant opened in Brandenburg last year, and German company Staeg has recently announced the investment of €100 million in six 15 MW projects across Germany, without government subsidy. These are expected to come online from mid-2016.
Following the ambitious climate change targets agreed in Paris at COP21, the United States has improved incentives for solar installations, which could, in turn, increase investment in battery storage and result in a boost to the industry.
The BP Technology Outlook, which sets out its view on technological developments over the next 35 years, predicts strong growth in renewables, with particular focus on solar power combined with battery storage.
Written By – Nikki Wilson