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An industry at a tipping point? Where does storage go from here?

Energy storage is an important part of our transition to an energy system powered by renewables - and there are still lots of questions surrounding the industry. Join RenewableUK and the Solar Trade Association as we answer all these questions at #Storage19 in London, 2nd December.

Barnaby Whaton, Director of Future Electricity Systems, RenewableUK

Like everyone working in the renewables industry, if I had a pound for every time someone asked my what we do “when the sun doesn’t shine and the wind doesn’t blow” I would probably be retiring very soon. It is a very reasonable question and one that we, as an industry, need to answer. At the moment the answer is very much gas peaking plant, but this is not a solution for the long term if we want to reach our decarbonisation targets.

Getting to a renewables-dominated system is going to require a few changes to the way we manage the system. This will not be more difficult that managing the system today, but will require different tools and services. National Grid has already committed to a 2025 deadline to run the system for periods without fossil fuel (sorry, no gas). This will be very challenging without storage to provide rapid response to system changes.

On 2nd December RenewableUK will be hosting Storage 2019 to explore where the storage industry has got to and the prospects for the future, and whether, with so many changes, the industry has reached a tipping point? We are delighted the National Grid are supporting the event and kicking off the discussion. We then want to address two questions: the first short term, and the second, long term.

On the short-term question: what have we learnt to date? There is already some 700MW of battery storage in the UK and many more GWs in development and the planning process. We are launching our latest Project Intelligence report at the event with more details.

So far, the main revenue for these projects has been the Capacity Market and frequency response – as frequency fell leading into the blackout on 9th August, batteries provided around 450MW of response. But can this market alone sustain deployment and where should this battery market go next? Storage will have to play much more in the balancing markets to be successful. We will be joined by the Solar Trade Association, KiWi Power, and RES to discuss these issues and more.

While lithium batteries are getting lots of the press at the moment, and this is not surprising, given that they make up the vast majority of the current projects. What is not appreciated is the range of other storage technologies that are out there, and many of which are coming to fruition now. One of the challenges is moving from battery storage, which lends itself towards multiple cycles daily, to storage that make economic sense over days, or even months, and making better use of the excess renewable generation over the summer, or very windy periods. The long-term question is what are the technologies that will deliver this interseasonal storage? How do you make such infrequent cycling profitable? And what other revenue streams are available? We will be joined by experts from the Siemens, Investec and Highview Power hydrogen to discuss the technical and commercial prospects for hydrogen, ammonia and compressed air technologies.

The pace of change in the industry is hugely exciting. Energy can be stored in many forms – gravity, heat and kinetic energy can all be used to store power. In our Dragon’s Den session we are going to hear pitches about gravity based storage from Gravitricity, the role of flywheels from Oxto energy, dense liquids as an alternative to pumped storage, from RheEnergised, and more; they will be testing their ideas on an expert panel and the audience.

With prices falling and new technologies coming to the fore and changing requirements coming from National Grid ESO, has storage finally reached a tipping point? Do join us to find out.



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