Storage is getting bigger, while storage solutions (and markets) are getting smarter

Storage is getting bigger, while storage solutions (and markets) are getting smarter

The ILI office have taken a keen interest in SSE’s plans to increase their Coire Glas pumped storage hydro-electric project.  The energy company have sought approval from the Scottish Government to change their proposals from the approved 600MW-capacity (approved in 2013), up to 1,500MW.  This not only doubles the site of the project.  Coire Glas will now have a storage capacity of up to 30 gigwatt hours (GWh), this effectively doubles the existing pumped storage capacity in the UK which is less than that of Coire Glas being only 24GWh.

To give an idea of the size of Coire Glas, the project will take 20 hours to release its stored energy, moving extremely large quantities of water.  One GWH is enough electricity for around a million homes.

Although the capacity is increasing significantly, most of the change is occurring underground by housing larger turbines.  And this process of adapting the assets you already have is happening in other areas of energy storage too.

This year saw the completion of the UK’s largest battery storage project; the 50MW Pelham Storage project by Statera.  This will be accompanied in the summer of 2018 by EDF’s West Burton battery, with Centrica’s 49MW Roosecote battery expected to follow soon thereafter.  But the power generation arm of the RWE Group have even bigger plans.  They are investing in the construction of a 100MW battery to accompany their Tilbury power station which is to be converted from a coal-fired plant into a gas peaking plant.

Like SSE’s plans to increase Coire Glas, this proposal takes advantage of the existing infrastructure to provide significant levels of storage without a massive increase in the footprint of these assets.  The balancing services (such as frequency response) that these projects provides means that they can access revenues that are available for flexible technologies and not being limited to generation that would otherwise be considered as providing baseload energy.

This flexibility is also translating to the micro scale.  A few weeks ago our blog looked at the potential impact of blockchain technologies which would allow peer to peer trading of electricity that could have benefits for balancing demands on the system at a local level.  Now Scottish and Southern Electricity Networks has asked Open Utility to develop an online energy flexibility trading tool.

Open Utility describe themselves as an ambitious software company who have launched a peer-to-peer energy marketplace for UK business customers through their Piclo software.  This effectively creates a market whereby Distribution Network Operators (DNOs) can procure flexible capacity from technologies like solar power and battery storage to meet the needs of local energy users.  This is a significant move forward allowing homeowners with solar panels, small battery storage facilities, businesses with wind turbines, all to offer these services to the network provider as well as peer-to-peer trading.

James Johnston, chief executive and co-founder at Open Utility, said that the energy sector cannot be transformed by an online marketplace acting alone.  This would also require “meaningful partnerships with incumbents working towards a common goal”.

We are uniquely positioned to understand the disruptive forces of digital technology and the evolving needs of the highly complex energy system. Our partnership with SSEN reflects this understanding,”

It is clear to ILI that by creatively looking at the assets we already hold, whether it is by adapting existing facilities or by using technology to enhance our local networks, we will all be able to participate in the energy markets of the future and contribute in a way that benefits us all.





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