02 April 2018

Connected Energy: April trends in sustainable energy

Connected Energy looks at April trends in sustainable energy.

Solid investment now a certainty

The Guardian is reporting that the falling cost of wind and solar projects, combined with advances in battery storage technology, will unlock about £20bn of investment in the UK between now and 2030.

The remarkable news comes in a report from Aurora Energy Research. Onshore wind and solar will both be viable without subsidies by 2025 in the UK, it adds.

Wind power is expected to account for half of the 18GW of subsidy-free renewables to be built in the UK between now and 2030, argues the report.

Keith Anderson at Scottish Power told the Guardian: “Let’s use it, let’s deploy it. There are still areas absolutely where we could build onshore windfarms, areas where the local community are accepting of windfarms.”

With billions streamlined for the future, there is now no doubt that by combining renewables and storage we will offer a vast number of jobs in the UK.

The key is to plan for the investment, and prepare our nascent industry for the expected growth.

Storage funds float

In other financial news this month, the rapid development of renewable energy is creating a new investment opportunity with the planned flotation of the UK’s first energy storage fund.

Citywire reports that The Gore Street Energy Storage Fund (GSF) is looking to raise £100 million in a stock market flotation next month. The investment company will use the money to roll out a network of lithium batteries in which renewable power from the grid can be stored.

Alex O’Cinneide, Chief Executive of Gore Street Capital, told Citywire: “The cash flows available from the energy storage assets that Gore Street Energy Storage Fund invests in, will allow a large, well-covered target 7% cash dividend, which is well suited to investors searching for yield.”

The fund has been catalysed by dirty but reliable nuclear and coal plants being shut down. Thus, the risk of blackouts during peak times is seen as a major issue, as the UK adopts fossil-free fuels to meet its international obligations.

The move is yet more evidence of how the shift to sustainable energy is beginning to reach into wider and wider sectors across the UK economy.

Speedy supercapacitors

The BBC reports that researchers reckon they've discovered a new material that could boost the performance of a carbon-based supercapacitor, sometimes called an ultracapacitor, a type of energy storage device that can be charged very quickly and offload its power very quickly.

Taavi Madiberk, Chief Executive of Skeleton Technologies told the BBC that in the short term, combining supercapacitors with li-ion batteries is probably the best way to enjoy the best of both worlds, particularly in electric vehicles.

Ulrik Grape, Chief Executive of NaWa technologies said, “We think the ability to charge and discharge a battery fast will be one of the most important things in the future.”

The BBC writes that new forms of energy storage will be critical to the success of UK renewable energy as a replacement for fossil fuels. When the sun doesn't shine or the wind doesn't blow, we'll need to access stored energy very quickly to plug the gap.

As well as traditional energy storage methods, such as pumped hydro, flywheels, compressed gas and large battery arrays, highly efficient supercapacitors could eventually become a crucial component in a fully sustainable energy network.