Battery Storage’s explosive growth

A new report published earlier this month has claimed that over 9GWh of batter energy storage could be added to the UK’s grid system over the next five years. The report “UK Battery Storage: Opportunities & Market Entry Strategies for 2018-2022” from Solar Media Market Research states that the sector will experience “explosive growth” over the time period.

The report confirms that in the previous twelve months the potential amount of new battery storage projects via applications has risen by 240% with new project installations expected to rise from 2018 onwards by over 200% per year. The planned reduction of carbon emissions, the phase out of coal fired power stations, and the rise in renewable energy generation have all been cited as reasons for the rise in battery storage facilities.

Lauren Cook of Solar Media market research spoke with Energy Storage News at the publication of the report and she believes that the volume will help place the UK among the industry leaders.

“The market is growing and it’s changing rapidly. There’s now projects completed on the ground. Once global companies start to see it’s not just a speculative market, it will make sense for them to think about how to enter the market and what the opportunities are for them.

“They will then need to know who is active in the market, who has these opportunities and who they will have to work with to take advantage of those opportunities.”

Ms Cook also looked at business models as part of the research which she says is changing quickly. With long term revenues very much the focus of developers, emphasis is being placed on multiple revenue streams arising from a range of services leading to revenue stack. Ms Cook however does not think that a typical stack exists in today’s market.

“I’m not sure there’s any such thing as a typical stack because there are many factors involved, but if you look at the timeline from the EFR of 2016 you had those projects were successful, those projects then went on to apply for the Capacity Market (CM), T-1 and T-4 in early 2017,” Cook said.

“Some of those were successful, some of those weren’t. We then saw the FFR auctions happening throughout 2017. Those projects also participated in those auctions, new projects also came in.

“Then I think the most recent phase of the Capacity Market – so again, the T-1 and the T-4 – was just another opportunity to add to those stacks. So you might see projects with an EFR contract, they may also have a T-1, they may also look to get a T-4 in the future, because of the different lengths of contracts – you can simultaneously run some contracts but you may want to have consecutive CM contracts. So you might see T-1 as a way of filling the time between a project becoming operational and the T-4 contract beginning. It’s not just about stacking them in one moment – so having multiple sources at one point in time – it’s about stacking the revenue streams across the lifetime of the project and having long-term revenue.”

If the report is correct then the UK’s installed battery storage capacity by 2022 will be 50 times greater than it was in 2017. As mentioned above there are a number of factors which have led to the potential growth on battery storage with the increase in renewable energy generation being one of the most important.

The intermittent nature of the generation has created a need for viable storage solutions. As battery storage has become commercially attractive growth has followed. There are some issues surrounding grid – which is not a preserve of battery storage – as well as the longevity of the technology but that will improve and has already begun to do so.

However Forbes this week in a report of their own stated that although Energy Storage was well and truly on the way, a major cost reduction was needed to make it attractive to the larger scale amenity companies who would be able to develop larger scale developments.

Battery storage is therefore not without pitfalls however these are similar to what other new technologies in the energy generation industry went through in their embryonic stage and to a certain extent they are expected.

However we believe in a good energy mix and which should include other methods of storage including pumped hydro, thermal, and mechanical. With a range of different technologies we can ensure large quantities of renewable energy can be stored at one time helping reduce our carbon emissions and reducing our reliance on carbon based fuels.

You can purchase the report “UK Battery Storage: Opportunities & Market Entry Strategies for 2018-2022” from Solar Media Market Research here https://marketresearch.solarmedia.co.uk/products/uk-battery-storage-opportunities-market-entry-strategies-for-2018-2022

Renewable Energy in the UK is popular and financially beneficial

The results from the most recent UK Government survey on attitudes to climate and energy were released this week including those regarding renewable energy with public support continuing to grow year on year.

49% of those that responded stated they were in favour of renewable energy with 30% strongly in favour giving a total of 79% positive, an increase of 5% from the previous year. Opposition to renewable energy remained low with only 3% stating they opposed it and 1% that strongly opposed it.

Overall the poll, which questioned 2000 people, showed similar results to the previous poll with nuclear showing a stable support level of 34% with only 22% opposed while opposition to shale gas extraction or fracking at 32% compared to 16% in favour.

The survey also showed 24% of those who took part have given serious thought to home energy saving solutions while 50% stated they had given it some thought. Renewable Heat did not fare better as despite 65% of those asked said they were aware of renewable heat technologies only 3% had this type of system installed in their home.

In addition only a small amount of those that took part in the survey (7% solar thermal panels, 2% a biomass boiler, 2% an air source heat pump and 1% a ground source heat pump) said they would be likely to install some sort of renewable heat system in their home in the future with concerns over cost and installation difficulties being the main reasons cited.

As the UK general public continue to support renewable energy new figures released by the UK government show Scotland’s renewable energy industry turning over £5.5billion in 2016. In addition job places rose by 300% over the same year.

This was mainly down to significant growth in both the onshore and offshore sectors as well as renewable heat with wind employment rising 300% to 200 places and renewable heat employment increasing from 500 places in 2015 to 2,500 in 2016.

It wasn’t all good news though with solar power employment falling 75% from 2,000 to 500 over the same period.

Jenny Hogan, deputy chief executive at Scottish Renewables, said: “These new figures clearly show the benefits renewable energy is bringing to Scotland.

“Companies that are developing projects here, as well as supply chain businesses supporting the wider industry, are employing people in skilled jobs and delivering investment from the Borders to Shetland.

“The rise in employment in the offshore wind and renewable heat sectors illustrates the huge boost to jobs and investment that is possible when technologies are given the right backing by Government. For these benefits to continue and grow, the whole industry needs to see that level of political commitment sustained across the board.

“The decline in employment in the solar industry shows clearly the impact of cuts to UK Government support for the sector. We would expect that future editions of this ONS survey will show declines in other areas caused by similar decisions made at Westminster.”

With renewable energy remaining both popular with and beneficial to the UK population we believe now is great time for the government to revisit its policies and once again place an emphasis on new renewable energy projects.

The resources are still relatively untouched and the infrastructure is now at much more advanced stage than it was a few years ago when the industry boom first kicked in. In addition the technologies are now much less expensive meaning that government involvement would not have to be at the level it was five or six years ago.

However without government support investment in the industry will continue to fall which we believe would be a missed opportunity and something we will come to regret in the future.

 

Battery storage moving us towards a more flexible grid

The UK’s largest battery storage portfolio was unveiled as it was connected to the grid this month. The new combined 50MW installations consist of 40MW battery park in Glassenbury in Kent and a 10 MW battery park located at Cleator in Cumbria. Both sites come under the National Grid Enhanced Frequency Response (EFR) 2016 200MW auction, delivering a quarter of the auction’s capacity. This type of site can therefore support grid flexibility and fluctuations in renewable energy and low carbon electricity generation.

The sites are being developed in a joint venture with Low Carbon , a renewable energy investment company, and VPI Immingham, owner of one of the largest combined heat and power plants in Europe and part of the Vitol Group under the VLC Energy name.

The two sites will use LG Chem lithium-ion battery modules, and advanced energy management systems from NEC providing sub-second responses to surges in energy supply and demand.

Roy Bedlow, Chief Executive of Low Carbon, said: “These battery parks represent perhaps the greatest increase in UK energy storage capacity to date as part of National Grid’s EFR auction. We’re delighted to have developed these sites with our partners at VPI Immingham, and look forward to expanding VLC Energy’s storage portfolio.

“Energy storage is critical to managing the demands on the grid, ensuring consumer needs are met, and increasing our reliance on low-carbon forms of electricity generation. These sites will help us tackle climate change and help the UK realise a cleaner and more energy efficient future.”

Russell Hardy, Chairman, VPI Immingham and CEO EMEA, Vitol, said: “Batteries hold the key to the future of the power landscape, both in the UK and internationally. Ensuring grid resilience is a necessary step in the growth of renewable generation.”

Leon Walker, Quantitative Analysis Manager, at National Grid said: “Using battery storage is a significant development for managing the national grid. It’s an ultra-fast way of keeping electricity supply and demand balanced.

“Over four years we estimate that this service will save the system operator around £200m. This is good news for consumers who benefit from our cost efficiencies, and paves the way for battery technology to establish itself as an important component of our energy system.

In addition a new trial by Nissan will test the feasibility of using electric vehicles as mini power stations. It will involve 1,000 car charging points with connected cars feeding power back into the grid. The scheme will take advantage of predictable driver patterns with most driving to work in the morning, returning in the evening and parking their vehicle up most nights.

The project will work on a similar premise to smart grid with electric cars programmed to use power when it is at it least expensive while charging. This is turn can benefit renewable energy generation as there can be a surplus when the wind is blowing or the sun is shining.

Then when the vehicle is parked up for the night it can provide electricity to the grid at times of high demand, recharging when costs are low in the middle of the night.

“Allowing EVs to return energy to the power grid when parked will increase grid resilience, allow for better exploitation of renewable sources and lower the cost of ownership for EV owners. It will lead to new business opportunities and clear advantages for EV users and energy consumers,” a government spokesperson said.

Patrick Erwin, from Northern Powergrid, said: “The growth in electric vehicles will provide greater system flexibility and use of renewable energy sources. Vehicle-to-grid also offers the prospect of enabling our customers to gain income from their vehicles by selling services to the energy system.”

As the push towards electric vehicles continues demand for electricity will naturally increase. A desire to reduce our carbon emissions and move towards more substantial renewable energy generation is high on the agenda. So to marry these together and create a viable solution is an excellent idea. Should the trial go well we believe this should be rolled out to all future vehicles and charging points.

Although this alone will not solve the renewable energy / storage issue it will help and as more consumers make the switch to electric vehicles the storage capacity will increase giving the grid greater flexibility.

In the end we want all our energy demands to be met by renewable energy and schemes like this will be an important component in helping us achieve it.

 

Wind energy continues to break records in 2018

2018 is already a good year for electricity generation via wind power with total output reaching 10 gigawatts for the first time last week with it continuing to climb before peaking at 13.5 gigawatts. This meant that 29% of the UK’s electricity was supplied by wind power at that point.

The UK’s total renewable energy capacity currently stands at 39GW with 12.5 of those gigawatts coming from onshore wind and 6.1GW from offshore wind. This means that we generate twice as much electricity from wind as we do from coal.

Although new developments have almost ground to a halt there are still a limited amount being added each month so as the overall capacity increases so will output meaning we can expect more record breaking days, especially during the winter months when it is traditionally windier.

The figures come from Drax Electric Insights which gathers together the different energy sources generating electricity in the UK and analyzes the supply, demand, price, and environmental impacts.

Speaking at the release on the record breaking numbers Dr Jonathan Marshall, Energy Analyst at the Energy and Climate Intelligence Unit (ECIU) said: “Breaking short-term output records on top of monthly and annual figures clearly shows that wind is now a major part of the UK electricity mix, and will continue to be in the future. Claims that the grid would be unable to handle 5, 10, or 20% wind power have been shown to be well wide of the mark.

“Possessing some of the windiest regions in Europe, the UK is poised to lead its peers in wind generation. Analysis has shown a UK resource of nearly 500 TWh per year, more than a third more than current annual power consumption. The Government has shown its willingness to install new capacity offshore, but is lagging on onshore wind as other countries move ahead, and as its official advisors call for barriers preventing the cheapest form of electricity generation to be removed.”

Also announced this week is the Scottish Government has launched a £60m fund called The Low Carbon Infrastructure Transition Programme (LCITP) to finance large scale low carbon energy projects. The European Regional Development Fund will co-fund the projects which in order to qualify must support the new Energy Strategy which was published in December 2017.

Projects which qualify will include low carbon heating and ultra-low emission vehicle charging infrastructure. The maximum grant per project is capped at £100,000, they must be based in Scotland and be operational by 2021. In addition the grant can only make up to 50% of the total capital value of the project.

Scottish Climate Change Secretary Roseanna Cunningham said: “We have, first and foremost, a moral obligation to fight climate change. But for a nation with Scotland’s resources and skills, the transition to a more prosperous, low-carbon and circular economy also presents a valuable economic opportunity.

“We are determined to attract, retain and develop the low-carbon innovators who will shape our future. That is why I am delighted to confirm that we are now accepting applications from innovative local energy projects to the Low Carbon Infrastructure Transition Programme.”

As wind power continues to prove itself as a reliable clean source of energy we hope that a turnaround in government policy to once again support the infrastructure can be implemented. The grid has proven itself capable of handling the loads and advancements in storage options give even more flexibility.

Although 100% of all our energy requirements via wind alone is unlikely, 100% from all renewables is now certainly achievable however in order for this to happen wind must bear the largest portion of the load. Something which cannot happen without more projects developed and linked to the grid.

The UK’s greenest year

2017 has been predicted to be the greenest ever for the UK with thirteen new record set through the course of the last twelve months. These include the first full day without the need of coal power since the Industrial Revolution, the most electricity produced from solar power at any one moment, and the most wind power produced in a day. Over the course of the year Britain ranked fourth cleanest for energy generation in Europe and seventh in the world.

In addition public support for renewable energy in the UK reached an all-time high in 2017 with WWF predicting it will be the greenest year ever. Gareth Redmond-King, head of energy and climate at WWF said: “We have never been cleaner or greener – and we are on course for an even better year in 2018. This is the success of supporting renewables in electricity.

“The Government has subsidised onshore wind, offshore wind, solar, hydro, the lot, and that has led to the cost of it falling, we have built more and now a third of our electricity comes from renewables.”

Duncan Burt, director of the system operator at National Grid said: “It’s been an exciting year managing the many ‘network firsts.’

“We now have significant volumes of renewable energy on the system which poses an exciting challenge for us in ensuring the supply and demand is matched second by second.

“As this trend continues, our ability to forecast these patterns is becoming more and more important. We have an expert team of forecasters who monitor a range of data, to forecast just how much electricity will be needed over a set period.”

Mr. Redmond-King added “Climate change is wreaking havoc on our nature and wildlife, but we are at last facing up to the challenge, turning our backs on polluting fossil fuels and embracing a new, clean future.”

He did warn however that positive Government action was required in order to continue with the drive towards clean green energy adding: “This is a success in terms of power; we haven’t done so well in relation to cutting emissions in our homes and vehicles. That’s where we need more concerted action. It’s a big job, but it has huge impacts, and we really need to see the detail of how the Government is going to commit to do that.”

The UK Government published its clean energy strategy in October last year setting out fifty policies and processes designed to improve energy efficiency and clean power generation. Critics however claim it does not go far enough to meet emission reduction targets especially the target of 2040 for end of sale of petrol and diesel vehicles.

On a more micro level the Anaerobic Digestion & Bioresources Association (ADBA) in Scotland have stated that one way of managing our emissions and meeting our goals is to significantly increase the amount of organic waste and energy crops we recycle into biogas for renewable heat and power, low carbon transport fuel and bio-fertilisers.

Anaerobic digestion (AD) is currently delivering 45MW of power and 11,000m3/hr of heat in Scotland, with AD plants across the UK now having enough capacity to power more than a million homes however ABDA believe more can be done.

Charlotte Morton, Chief Executive of the ADBA, said: “The Scottish Government has set itself ambitious but necessary targets for generating renewable energy in its new Energy Strategy and renewable heat and electricity produced through AD can make an important contribution to these goals, as well as reducing emissions from landfill, creating rural jobs, and helping to restore degraded soils.”

The Scottish Government’s Energy Strategy sets a new target for at least 50% of all Scotland’s heat, transport, and electricity consumption to be supplied from renewable sources by 2030.

The advances we have made in clean energy generation have all led to the success 2017 and continuing breaking records is great to see, it means we are doing a lot right. More is required however both in terms of reaching our emission reduction targets and in creating 100% clean energy generation.

After a period of inactivity the UK Government is now beginning to move towards more green policies and initiatives which will help greatly in helping us achieve our aims. We hope that this shift continues and more new developments and technologies are brought on-line in the near future.

2017 was a great year but let’s not make it the final year we break clean energy records.

Does Renewable Energy have a hidden carbon footprint?

The mandate of renewable energy is to deliver clean energy to the appropriate grid network in order to reduce carbon emissions and help create a cleaner more sustainable environment for all. It cannot be disputed that with no fossil fuel to burn the renewable energy production process reduces emissions substantially in some cases close to zero.

However the generation process is not the whole story and there has always been voices of distraction pointing towards the manufacturing and distribution of the technology and its components. The detractors claim that these processes contain a hidden carbon footprint with the emissions they create pushing the projects over the course of their lifespan into a negative carbon debt position.

For example the factories that manufacture solar panels use vast amounts of electricity, much of it likely to be generated from carbon heavy sources. Wind turbine installations require a sizeable amount of steel and concrete and the transport costs of moving the core elements of any renewable energy project to its final location usually involves long distances and therefore carbon heavy transport issues.

New research however published in Nature Energy and carried out by Carbon Brief shows that the carbon footprints of renewable energy technologies including wind turbines and solar panels are vastly less than coal or gas generation including those with carbon capture and storage. In addition the carbon footprint of the renewable energy installations remained below that of coal and gas when manufacture, transport, and construction were included.

Dr. Gunnar Luderer energy system analyst at the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impacts Research (PIK) and study co-author said: “There was a concern that it is a lot harder than suggested by energy scenario models to achieve climate targets, because of the energy required to produce wind turbines and solar panels and associated emissions.”

He went on to tell Carbon Brief “The most important finding [of our research] was that the expansion of wind and solar power…comes with life-cycle emissions that are much smaller than the remaining emissions from existing fossil power plants, before they can finally be decommissioned.”

The first stage of the research was to work out the energy required to build power stations and provide the fuel in order to generate electricity. The study found that fossil fuel plants require “significantly higher” amounts of energy for this process than wind and solar power.

The study found for example that 11% of energy generated by a coal fired power station is offset by the energy required to build and supply the plant. Wind and solar in comparison need only 2% of energy generated to offset build and supply requirements.

Study co-author Edgar Hertwich – Professor of Industrial Sustainability at the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies – told Carbon Brief “I continue to be amazed just how low the embodied energy use of solar, wind and nuclear power is, in comparison with others.”

With the research stating that the footprint of wind and solar is much less than coal and gas generation Dr Luderer told Carbon Brief “A crucial strength of our approach is that it fully accounts for future changes in the energy system. For example, increasingly less energy will be required to produce solar modules, due to technological progress and a shift towards less energy-intensive technology variants. At the same time, the global climate change mitigation effort will reduce the CO2 emissions per unit of electricity and steel inputs, further limiting life-cycle greenhouse gas emissions. The earlier studies considered by the IPCC did not account for these future changes, thus overestimating indirect energy requirements and indirect greenhouse gas emissions of several low-carbon technologies.”

The footprint of solar comes in at 6gCO2e/kWh and wind is also 4gCO2e/kWh. In contrast, coal CCS (109g) and gas CCS (78g) have relatively high emissions, compared to a global average target for a 2C world of 15gCO2e/kWh in 2050.

The study therefore concludes that contrary to the claims of critics the hidden emissions due to building wind turbines, solar panels or nuclear plants are very low, in comparison with the savings from avoiding fossil fuels.

“Some critics have argued renewable energies could come with high hidden greenhouse gas emissions that would negate their benefits to the climate. Our study now shows that the opposite is true,” Dr Luderer concluded.

Reference: Information and quotes written here relating to the study mentioned above along with full details of the study and its findings can be accessed at https://www.carbonbrief.org/solar-wind-nuclear-amazingly-low-carbon-footprints

A New Smart Grid

Traditionally the UK’s electricity network has been a one way supply with a number of large power stations generating electricity and supplying it to the grid. The rise of renewable energy generation from more numerous small scale installations plus a rise in demand for power for electric vehicles however has created a demand for the new smart grid capable of operating efficiently in the 21st century.

SP Energy Networks, one of the UK’s network operators is currently in the process of developing new technologies which will help create this smart grid. Other network operators including SSE Networks and UK Power Networks are also involved and all believe smart technologies could help create mini regional energy markets across the country in addition to the national transmission system. Under the cross industry plans, power from solar panels on properties or from electric vehicles could be sold back to the network, or even directly to neighbours using block-chain technology.

For example a new type of network power transformer transformer, the LV engine project, which can closely control network voltage and power flow and can provide a direct current (DC) power supply – essential for electric vehicle charging – and developed by SP Energy Networks will go through a five year trial funded by Ofgem. LV Engine will be delivered by SP Energy Networks in collaboration with fellow electricity network operator UK Power Networks.

SP Energy Networks will also lead a separate research scheme called FUSION to be trialled in the East Fife area. The project will create the UK’s first intelligent local energy marketplace where energy flexibility can be bought and sold by consumers in an open and competitive market.

Jim McOmish, SP Energy Networks Head of Distribution Networks, said: “Business and residential customers are seeking to maximise the efficiency and lower the cost of their energy use, and the flexibility of their demand for energy is a marketable commodity.

“At the moment there is no open accessible transparent market to buy and sell this flexibility, and the challenge is building one which unlocks that value for everybody – electricity providers on one side and consumers on the other.”

This project could see consumer savings of over £200million and carbon emission reductions of over 3million tonnes.

Frank Mitchell, CEO of SP Energy Networks, said: “These globally innovative projects will enable customers to be fully engaged in the electricity market, creating additional income through local generation and storage, whilst unlocking additional network capacity to make a truly nationwide network of electric vehicles a reality.

“I am delighted to secure this additional funding on behalf of our customers. These awards, which come hot on the heels of another recent Ofgem funding award to roll out the latest network monitoring and control technology in the Dumfries & Galloway area, demonstrate our continued leadership in commercial and technical innovation together with our ongoing ambition and capability to innovate in the best interests of our customers, communities and wider stakeholders.”

The Energy Networks Association (ENA) said Wednesday’s plan is the culmination of almost a year of small-scale trials and marks the start of a “rapid increase” in energy mini-markets in the next six years.

David Smith, boss of the ENA, said the overhaul will help networks to meet the challenge of balancing more complicated energy systems, provide a cash boost to customers, and deliver a £17bn benefit to the UK economy in the coming decades. The economic benefit could rise to as high as £40billion according to Government estimates.

Without doubt there is an energy revolution on the way. The increase in use of electric vehicles is expected to sky rocket over the coming years with traditional petrol and diesel based vehicles being phased out around the globe. As this happens not only will demand rise but the ability to store it will also.

All this demands a new smart grid to ensure that the electricity can flow as readily as needed and stored efficiently when not. The new technologies and projects proposed are therefore very welcome. The long term advantages of creating a new smart grid network will benefit us all and open up more clean, renewable and less expensive electricity to all of us.

 

Scotland’s innovative renewable projects

Scotland is on track to meet its target of 100% of electricity generation from renewable sources by 2020. Since the turn of the century we have gone from producing 10% of electricity from renewables to 60%. We hit our emissions reducing target five years earlier than anticipated and look set to preserve that momentum going forward.

Our transition to renewable energy has been made without any negative impact on the country’s finances demonstrating that there is no need to choose between ecological and economic considerations.

Wind power has played major role in this success with both onshore and offshore developments contributing significantly. Solar has also added its share although not to the same level as wind, as any resident will tell you, it is much more windy than it is sunny here.

It is not only these two major components which are providing clean electricity as more and more innovative ideas and projects are being realised throughout the country. With the reduction of new onshore wind and solar developments to almost zero over the past year it is these new type developments which will keep us on track for hitting and maintaining our targets.

For example in Glenrothes, Fife councillors have granted planning permission for a vast network of underground pipes to be installed throughout the town as part of the Glenrothes District Heating Scheme.

Although the councillors were concerned regarding the extent of pipe laying required committee members were reassured the pipework generally followed the route of roads and unless absolutely necessary would avoid existing utilities and greenspaces with all excavated land being replaced as it is.

The £17million project is being organised by the local council in conjunction with energy company RWE and the Scottish Government with the aim to provide low-carbon heat to both residential and business premises. It will use heat capacity from the local biomass plant and transport it initially to the council’ Fife and Rothesay House. A further 327 homes have been identified as potential beneficiaries as has Rothes Hall, a local library, a social club, a church and a number of shops.

Another example is a pioneering Scottish Government funded trial currently taking place in Aberdeenshire into the use of hydrogen technology to reduce and hopefully eliminate carbon emissions from tractors and other farm vehicles.

A number of farmers are taking part in the trial including David Barron who will using the hydrogen electrolyser technology on his JCB loader tractor. The special hydrolyser has been retrofitted and although it will not replace the vehicles diesel use it will reduce it significantly meaning a reduction in its carbon emission output.

The unit puts an electric current through distilled water to create oxy-hydrogen which is then put through the engine helping to keep it extremely clean. As well as reducing carbon emissions the hydrolyser unit reduced the machine’s fuel consumption by approximately three litres per hour.

Based on a fuel cost of 50p a litre, this equates to a saving of £1.50 an hour and a potential annual saving of £1,500 if the machine is used for 1,000 hours during the year.

Phil Davies, of Water Fuel Engineering Ltd, which fitted the hydrolyser to the loader, said Mr Barron’s JCB was the first agricultural machine in the UK to be fitted with this new technology. He said: “What we have created is an electrolyser which produces oxy-hydrogen on board and on demand.

“We have turned a standard diesel vehicle into a hybrid to clean up the emissions – it takes out about 80% of the emissions.”

He said the company was confident that the technology would be mass produced and commercially available to farmers, at an affordable price, from 2019.

“We are really excited because in the past five to 10 years the government has made a lot of noise about emissions in cities, but in rural areas it’s more significant. What perhaps we will need to be thinking about is how heavy industrial traffic could actually contribute to cleaner air. There’s a danger sometimes that we might take clean air for granted.”

Alan Bruce, of SAC Consulting’s office in Turriff, oversees Nether Aden’s involvement in the government project. He confirmed improved efficiency and reduced carbon emissions went hand in hand.

Mr Barron’s farm is one of nine taking part in the Scottish Government’s Farming for a Better Climate initiative which helps farmers find ways to make their businesses more profitable and efficient, while in turn reducing their carbon footprint.

As well as installing the hydrolyser on his JCB, Mr Barron has discussed a wide range of issues with fellow farmers attending meetings at Nether Aden as part of the Farming for a Better Climate initiative. In addition, Mr Barron has enrolled Nether Aden in the government’s Agri-Environment and Climate Change Scheme and green manure has been incorporated into cropping plans as part of this.

Over the coming years there will be many more creative ideas and inventive projects launched to utilise our renewable sources and continue to reduce our carbon emissions. However small they may seem they all add up and contribute significantly to us meeting our renewable energy generation and carbon emission reductions.

Whilst wind and solar are incredibly important for us is achieving these it is the combined contribution of the small projects that will take us over the line and keep us there.

 

The Balancing Act

A new study from battery developers Eaton in partnership with the Renewable Energy Association (REA) and Bloomberg New Energy Finance shows that the cost of generating energy from wind and solar in the UK is expected to halve by 2040 which in turn is expected to lead to more opportunities for energy storage.

The study confirmed that the intermittency of wind and solar energy generation will create extremely varied outputs. This is likely to produce periods when output exceeds demand and also when demand outstrips generation levels.

The study does state that while battery storage is a viable solution to short-term volatility issues it is not well suited to providing long term back-up of weeks or months. To meet these longer-term gaps hydro, interconnectors and gas generation are the only solutions that can ease flexibility economically. Other technologies such as hydrogen storage would require significant cost reductions by 2040.

Speaking at the launch of the study report BNEF’s head of global analysis Albert Cheung said: “This study highlights a seismic shift in how power systems will operate in future. As wind and solar become the cheapest options for power generation, the race is on to develop and deploy the flexible resources that will complement them.”

This new study follows on from the BNEF New Energy Outlook report published in June which stated that renewable energy generation will account for approximately 75% of the projected $10 trillion of global investment in energy technologies by 2040.

The expected back-up capacity is expected to remain relatively flat up to 2040 with current levels being approximately 70GW. This could be balanced via dispatchable resources, generation, storage, flexibility and interconnectors. In the highest output months, the UK could source 70% of its needs from wind and solar and some associations claim that bioenergy could be used to provide the remaining baseload.

Another solution could be found in the Nordic countries where a larger percentage of the energy generation and storage is produced and maintained via hydro-power. While the Nordic countries are expected to produce 67% of their energy in generated by hydro by 2040 the figure in the UK is currently projected to be much lower leading to claims that more hydro generation and hydro storage options are required.

“Massive increases in future renewable power generation mean that industry and government must start planning now to ensure low-carbon, cost-effective ways of balancing demand and supply,” the REA’s chief executive Dr Nina Skorupska said.

“We believe that there is a role for fuelled renewable technologies such as bioenergy and energy from waste to provide the complementary baseload generation that will be required, to avoid the need for carbon intensive generation at all.”

Analysis from the Carbon Trust suggests that energy storage could contribute £2.4bn to UK electricity system savings by 2030, but only if a range of ‘necessary regulatory reforms’ are introduced to steady the UK’s energy market.

“These solutions could include continued promotion of smart metering, reforms to increase market openness and transparency for all grid ancillary services and long-term grid service contracts and pricing schemes. We will also analyse the benefits of various policy options for the future of the energy market that include storage,” Eaton’s distributed energy segment manager Louis Shaffer said.

Energy storage is fast becoming one of the hottest topics in generation circles. As countries continue to increase their renewable output viable storage solutions become equally important As with energy generation successful storage will require a mix of different technologies to cater for different situations.   Battery storage will certainly work on a local short-term level. However large scale nationwide supply will require more suitable technologies.

Pump Storage Hydro is considered to be one of the most advanced largest capacity form of grid energy storage that currently exists. This proven technology can help reduce renewable energy curtailment and therefore promote grid stability. For example ILI Group is currently working on three potential large scale developments in Scotland which combined could export over 1.2GW of energy to the grid.

Renewable energy is the answer to clean, safe energy generation. Renewable energy storage will help us overcome intermittency issues and guarantee that whatever the weather we will have a continuous flow of clean energy.

 

A Perfect Match

Wind power was the toast of Scotland again in October as over the course of the month turbines throughout the country produced enough electricity for almost double the amount of homes.

1.7million megawatt hours of electricity were generated by Scottish wind turbines in October according to data collated by WeatherEnergy, enough to power 4.5 million homes with more than 100 per cent of the total domestic electricity requirement generated on 28 out of 31 days.

WeatherEnergy’s Karen Robinson said: “October was an extraordinary month and provides more evidence that greater investment in both renewables and storage is the way forward.”

Gina Hanrahan, acting head of policy at WWF Scotland, said: “No-one will be surprised that October proved to be a spectacular month for wind energy, with some high winds, including the tail end of Hurricane Ophelia.

“Fortunately our infrastructure coped well with the windy weather which provided enough to power nearly twice the number of households in Scotland and almost all of our electricity demand.

“Scotland’s renewable sector is thriving, but to have continued growth of clean, cheap power the UK Government needs to allow onshore wind and solar to compete for contracts on a level playing field.

“This is backed by everyone from the Scottish Government to the National Infrastructure Commission to Ofgem and, most importantly, the general public.

“Renewables, including onshore wind, are riding high in the polls with record levels of support. Consumers, the industry and the planet would all benefit from their continued deployment.”

Stephanie Conesa, policy manager at industry body Scottish Renewables, said: “Scotland is home to approximately 25 per cent of Europe’s offshore wind resource and we are now starting to build projects which will harness this potential.

“The Beatrice project in the Moray Firth is forging ahead, Statoil’s world-leading Hywind is now generating electricity and the contract awarded to the 950MW Moray East project by the UK Government in 2017 showed the impressive cost reductions which are possible in the sector.

“Scotland is also emerging as an international centre of offshore wind innovation. The 196 metre Levenmouth turbine in Fife is the world’s most advanced open access offshore wind turbine dedicated to research, while the European Offshore Wind Deployment Centre – an 11-turbine scheme off Aberdeen – is set to trial next-generation technology and boost the industry’s drive to produce competitive clean power.

“The economic impact of these projects is already being felt. Ports like Nigg and Wick and coastal towns, including Campbeltown and Stornoway, are seeing investment, development and jobs.

“Other parts of the supply chain, too, are developing apace, with companies such as Edinburgh’s Limpet Technologies developing innovative systems to protect the offshore wind workforce of the future.

“The Scottish Government has shown its ambition to generate the equivalent of half of all energy consumed from renewable sources by 2030 and offshore wind can play a key role in meeting that ambition, as well as the UK’s wider climate goals and our international commitments under the Paris Agreement.”

In other wind generation news the Crown Estate Scotland, who are responsible for leasing the seabed to developers, is to start discussions with the renewables industry and the government to prepare for potential new offshore wind farms.

The proposed new leasing will potentially see more sea bed used by developers to build commercial-scale (100MW+) floating and / or fixed offshore wind farms and follows figures released in September showing a sharp fall in the cost of offshore wind electricity.

John Robertson, senior development manager at Crown Estate Scotland said: “We have now started to consider if and how to issue new leasing rights for commercial-scale offshore wind projects.

“This will include speaking to local, Scottish and UK stakeholders in 2018 to understand their views on our proposed approach.

“The waters around Scotland have fantastic potential, particularly for developments in deeper waters.

“With costs being lowered and jobs created throughout the supply chain, new leasing has the potential to benefit communities, consumers and the climate.”

Scottish Government minister for business, innovation and energy, Paul Wheelhouse MSP, said: “The potential benefits of offshore wind energy are enormous, given Scotland’s very extensive maritime area and estimated 25% share of Europe’s wind energy potential.

“Investment in renewable energy, such as offshore wind, will not only stimulate economic growth, but can also help to lower electricity prices in the future and significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions and, thereby, mitigate the impacts of climate change.

“We want to maximise the huge potential of this industry and its supply chain here, in Scotland, and so I welcome Crown Estate Scotland’s efforts to identify future licensing opportunities and look forward to working with CES as they manage Scotland’s marine assets directly on behalf of Scottish Ministers.”

UK Government energy minister, Richard Harrington, said: “The offshore wind sector in the UK has shown great ambition and is bringing forward clean energy projects that could power more than 3 million homes, at half the cost achieved in previous auctions.

“Our Clean Growth Strategy sets out that the UK could support another 10GW of offshore wind in the 2020s, with the opportunity for more if it’s cost effective. This announcement today is an important step towards these future projects.”

We have always stated that a diverse renewable energy mix is the best way to generate power and stand by that. However wind generation is very much the leader in Scotland. Its technologies are tested and reliable. Its costs are now below that of the non-renewable traditional generation methods and we have the resources. It is a perfect match.

So while it is not surprising to see it producing such quantities of electricity it is pleasing. With new storage methods coming online the ability to produce, store, and distribute renewable energy to suit the peaks and troughs of consumer demand is not far away.

And with that will come the realisation of 100% of the country’s electricity demand being met by renewables. Then we can start importing to other countries all the while reducing our reliance on carbon based energy and the harmful emissions it can produce.