22 January 2018

2018 is now in full swing - so here's Connected Energy's overview of this year's opening trends and themes

Here's Connected Energy's overview of this year's opening energy trends and themes

All Party Parliamentary Group hails battery storage

A paper released just before Christmas claims Britain could have a 12 gigawatt battery market by 2021, according to a parliamentary policy group.

The paper was written by the U.K. Renewable Energy Association (REA) and an All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Energy Storage, an interest group made up of members of the House of Lords and House of Commons.

But the paper also warns that hitting that 12-gigawatt target will require major policy support.

The figure assumes a scenario in which all the policies contained in the Government’s July 2017 smart systems and flexibility plan are rolled out on schedule and in parallel with other reforms, including tax incentives.

It's uncertain whether this can really take place, but either way, at Connected Energy, we welcome this further proof of the UK's burgeoning battery marketplace.

Many of the medium scenario drivers are, “Already happening outside legislation,” said the paper’s Lead Analyst and Editor, Frank Gordon of the REA.

It will be intriguing to watch throughout 2018, as the battery storage and flexible energy transition gathers pace in the UK.

Shortage of charging points a concern

As the year turned, The Guardian has been reporting that a shortage of charging points and strain on energy supplies are now the main stumbling blocks to the rise of driverless electric cars, according to the UK boss of insurer AXA.

Amanda Blanc told The Guardian a lack of rapid charging bays and pressure on the National Grid have overtaken questions about accident liability as the biggest barriers to autonomous vehicles entering the transport mainstream.

When Blanc recently drove to Edinburgh in her Tesla with her family, they stopped twice to use a supercharger but went for coffee while the car charged. “In three to four years’ time when more people are buying electric, you do not want to have to queue for your supercharger,” she said. “The infrastructure has to be fixed.”

She outlined further issues, which need fixing to the broadsheet. “If suddenly everyone’s got one [an electric car] I’m not sure how the National Grid is going to cope with that.

“If in the Coronation Street break everyone goes to put the kettle on and that causes problems, just imagine what will happen if everybody comes home from work at 6 o’clock and switches their cars on to charge; we have to be smarter about renewables and regenerating electricity. That’s a real challenge.”

Clearly, here at Connected Energy – we would be delighted to introduce Ms Blanc to our E-STOR rapid charge system. This is precisely the kind of technology that will provide a solution to current infrastructure constraints.

The land is always greener…

In other news, there’s good news for farmers (for a change!). The Energyst Reports that farmers are ‘being offered government grants that enable them to claim up to 40% of the cost of a battery storage system’.

As you’d expect, the grants are subject to some limitations (the minimum amount is £35,000 and the maximum amount is £1m). For battery storage, the total system ‘cannot exceed 1MW and there are restrictions around its capacity versus the farm’s total energy use’.

We believe this is good news for the farming community – it will enable farmers to access grid balancing revenue streams; made possible by a substantial discount.

The January takeaway

The sense this month is that there are challenges to delivering the next iteration of UK electric vehicles, and cohesive policy is needed.

That said, the newspapers are talking about the challenges, not whether electric vehicles, storage and the new flexible grid are even coming at all.

As 2018 opens, we've therefore moved from a position of debate on the value of the smart grid, to debating how best to get there.

Low carbon is now unequivocally the UK's overriding infrastructure goal. And, participation in a smarter, cleaner future is possible.