Could the grid stymie India’s storage plans?

Pumped hydro might not be the best option for long-term storage in India (pic: animam.photography).

Pumped hydro might not be the best option for long-term storage in India (pic: animam.photography).

 

By Jason Deign

Doubts over the strength of the grid have called into question a USD$17.2bn plan to build 10GW of pumped hydro storage in India.

Central Electricity Authority chairman SD Dubey unveiled the five-to-six-year pumped hydro programme last month.

The administration would be adopting pumped hydro to store excess power from India’s growing renewable energy sector because the storage medium is cheaper than batteries, he said.

But being able to store energy in pumped hydro reserves depends upon getting it to the dams in the first place.

And observers have questioned whether India’s grid is up to the task, particularly since it is already groaning under the impact of solar energy. 
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The nuclear plant powering debate over storage

Artist's view of the Hinkley Point C nuclear plant. Image: EDF Energy.

Artist’s view of the Hinkley Point C nuclear plant. Image: EDF Energy.

By Jason Deign

A surprise U-turn over a UK nuclear power plant has ignited debate over whether renewables, backed by storage, might not be a better alternative.

Last month the UK’s new, post-Brexit administration raised eyebrows after announcing a further review of Hinkley Point C, a controversial nuclear power plant that was supposed to have been given the final go-ahead on July 29.

UK officials rushed to issue assurances after the postponement threatened to spark tensions with China and France, the international partners in the GBP£18bn project.

“The UK needs a reliable and secure energy supply and the government believes that nuclear energy is an important part of the mix,” soothed Greg Clark, business, energy and industrial strategy secretary, in press reports.

The government said it would now make its final decision “in early autumn,” he said.
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Brexit fallout: higher UK energy storage costs

The UK's departure from the European Union is making storage more expensive.

The UK’s departure from the European Union is making storage more expensive.

By Jason Deign

One immediate result of the UK’s decision to leave the European Union is likely to be higher energy storage costs, Energy Storage Report has learned.

The June 23 vote to split with the Union, led by England and Wales, sent sterling tumbling against the dollar. Each pound was worth USD$1.48 on the day of the referendum, versus $1.31 yesterday, an almost 12% drop.

Sterling has also fallen almost 9% against the euro, from €1.30 on June 23 to €1.19 yesterday. This means the cost of importing storage technologies has likely risen by around 10% in the last month.

Nor is it clear whether sterling’s malaise is likely to improve over time.

Joseph Wright of Pound Sterling Forecast this week said: “Moving forward I’m expecting the financial data to continue to disappoint on release, mostly due to the uncertainty created by the Brexit.
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UK energy storage: why a Brexit may be good

Britons discussing the Brexit in a pub yesterday. Photo: www.animam.photography.

Britons discussing the Brexit in a pub yesterday. Photo: www.animam.photography.

By Jason Deign

UK renewable energy interests could face significant market disruption if Britons vote to leave the European Union (EU) in a referendum this month.

But while sectors such as wind energy fret over what a so-called ‘Brexit’ could mean for European-led subsidy programmes, whether or not a departure could harm the UK’s nascent energy storage market is less clear-cut.

In particular, the fact that storage is already being deployed in the UK without any form of government support means further growth in the market may not be dependent on political links with Europe.

Last month, for example, the UK’s National Grid launched the first battery system in Great Britain to provide sub-second frequency response services.

Hertfordshire, England-based Renewable Energy Systems won the bid to provide 2MW of storage capacity under a four-year contract.
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P2P energy player lobbies for storage

Battery storage in P2P energy networks could help businesses such as the Eden Project save money. (Pic: Jürgen Matern)

Battery storage in P2P energy networks could help businesses such as the Eden Project save money. (Pic: Jürgen Matern)

By Jason Deign

Peer-to-peer (P2P) power supplier Open Utility is planning to pressure the UK electricity market regulator towards introducing grid-balancing measures that could include energy storage.

The company, which runs an energy marketplace called Piclo, hopes to convince the Office of Gas and Electricity Markets (Ofgem) that P2P networks are good for consumers and distributed generation asset owners.

“There are significant benefits in better balancing renewables and demand on a local electricity network,” said James Johnston, Open Utility’s CEO and co-founder. “Energy storage will be key in enabling this balancing.”

Currently, he said, UK regulations do little to encourage the use of energy storage in P2P networks. Piclo, which allows businesses to buy renewable power directly from source, does not currently include storage, for example.

However, Johnston said: “If regulations allow for it, incentivising local balancing using P2P energy matching could unlock significant financial rewards for local consumers and generators.”
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Could grids negate the need for energy storage?

The potential for more grid interconnections in the European transmission system does not minimise the need for energy storage in Europe, according to the European Commission project e-Highway2050. Photo credit: ENTSO-E

The potential for more grid interconnections in the European transmission system does not minimise the need for energy storage in Europe, according to the European Commission project e-Highway2050. Photo credit: ENTSO-E

By Jason Deign

The potential for interconnections to minimise the need for storage across Europe looks vanishingly thin in the face of recent research.

Five future interconnection scenarios published last November as a result of a European Commission project called e-Highway2050 all accept the need for significant storage capacity in order to de-carbonise Europe’s energy system.

The 40-month-long project concluded it would be possible to achieve close to zero carbon emissions by 2050 with an investment of between €100bn and €400bn in electricity transmission infrastructure.

At the same time, however, all the models used in e-Highway2050’s research findings booklet also included an allowance of between 73GW and 113GW of energy storage, compared to 45GW in place in 2012.

“I suppose that the architects behind the project want to demonstrate the high shares of fluctuating energy can be handled,” consultant Paul-Frederik Bach told Energy Storage Report.
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Storage seen as key in COP21 talks

COP21 2015: We analyse what participants at the Paris Climate Conference are saying about climate change and energy storage, and how it will affect global industry investment. Photo credit: COP21

COP21 2015: We analyse what participants at the Paris Climate Conference are saying about climate change and energy storage, and how it will affect global industry investment. Photo credit: COP21

By Jason Deign

Energy storage looks set to benefit from increased funding worldwide if leaders make good on pledges at the 21st Conference of Parties (COP21) this week.

Up to USD$30 trillion in investment could be freed up to fight climate change in what has been hailed as the “end of the fossil era.”

The money would be needed to improve renewable energy penetration to reach the Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs) being presented at COP21.

An initial $20bn or so in funding for renewable energy innovation, including storage, was announced on Monday when the Breakthrough Energy Coalition, a group of 30 or so major investors, joined the fight against climate change.

Elsewhere, energy storage was specifically cited as an investment target for “tens of billions of dollars” by White House sources at the COP21 talks in Paris.
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UK elections: who’s best for energy storage?

UK energy storage policy: A Conservative government may spell the end of subsidies for for renewable energy such as onshore wind turbines.

UK energy storage policy: A Conservative government may end subsidies for onshore wind turbines. Photo: Animam.

By Jason Deign

Energy storage supporters may have some reason to hope for a Labour Party-led outcome to tomorrow’s UK General Elections, an analysis of electoral pledges reveals.

Labour, currently trailing the ruling Conservatives by a photo-finish margin in opinion polls, has issued one of the strongest renewable energy promises in the electoral campaign, with a plan to de-carbonise the UK completely by 2030.

“We will work to make Britain a world leader in low carbon technologies over the next decade, creating a million additional green jobs,” says Labour’s manifesto.

“This aim will be supported by ambitious domestic carbon reduction targets, including a legal target to remove the carbon from our electricity supply by 2030, and a major drive for energy efficiency.”

And while Labour, the UK’s main left-wing party, does not mention energy storage as such in its proposals, at least two of its potential government alliance partners do.
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