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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Crowdfunding: a new route to cash?

UK crowdfunding campaign successes for Renovagen, Highview Power Storage and Powervault, as venture capital investment decreases for energy storage start-ups.

UK crowdfunding successes for Renovagen, Highview Power Storage and Powervault, as venture capital investment decreases for energy storage start-ups. Photo: Renovagen

By Jason Deign

A UK campaign this month underscored the value of crowdfunding as new figures showed energy storage venture capital financing on the wane.

Renovagen, an integrated solar-plus-storage technology developer, had raised GBP£1m from 807 investors when its crowdfunding campaign on Crowdcube came to an end last week.

The campaign saw the start-up getting 167% of its £600,000 target, with the largest single investment amounting to £100,000.

The money will be used to fund go-to-market costs for Renovagen’s Roll-Array portable solar power system, which consists of flexible, transportable solar farm units with integrated energy storage.

Renovagen claims the technology enables deployment of large solar power capacity more quickly than competing methods.
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Regulation to dominate today’s ESN meeting

 This week's UK Electricity Storage Network annual meeting is dominated by the future regulation of energy storage in the UK. Photo credit: OST Energy


This week’s UK Electricity Storage Network annual meeting is dominated by the future regulation of energy storage in the UK. Photo credit: OST Energy

By Jason Deign

The issue of regulation is set to tower over proceedings at today’s Electricity Storage Network (ESN) annual meeting the UK, Energy Storage Report has learned.

UK distribution network operators (DNOs) are keen to deploy storage but face regulatory hurdles due to a lack of definition over how to treat the assets, said Dr Jill Cainey, the ESN’s director.

In particular, from a regulatory point of view storage in the UK is treated as both a source of demand and of supply, since it does not have a class of its own. This means DNOs have to comply with two sets of regulation.

“That’s just not efficient,” blasted Cainey. “You and I could do whatever we like. As soon as it’s owned and operated by a supplier then that becomes a problem.”

Oliver Soper, co-founder and director of the energy technical advisory firm OST Energy, said: “For a DNO it’s a massive challenge.
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AES: European portfolio grows 20MW in fortnight

AES Energy Storage Solutions is now powering the largest fleet of advanced energy storage in Europe, with the completion of its Advancion battery storage arrays in the Netherlands and at Kilroot Power Station, Ireland.

AES Energy Storage Solutions is now powering the largest fleet of advanced energy storage in Europe, after completing Advancion battery arrays in the Netherlands and at Kilroot Power Station, Ireland. Photo: AES Energy Storage

By Jason Deign

AES Energy Storage Solutions has stepped up its European presence with the completion of two 10MW battery plants so far this year.

Last week the company announced the start of commercial operations for a storage array in the Netherlands, six days after confirming completion of the UK’s largest-ever battery plant, in Northern Ireland.

The AES Netherlands Advancion Energy Storage Array was completed in December, “enhancing European grid reliability with fast response ancillary services,” said the company in a press release.

It uses Panasonic lithium-ion batteries to serve TenneT, the Netherlands national electricity transmission system operator (TSO), with up to 60 minutes of primary operating reserve, a company spokesperson said.

AES UK & Ireland’s Kilroot Advancion Energy Storage Array, at Kilroot Power Station in Carrickfergus, Northern Ireland, is broadly similar, also boasting an Advancion 4 management system and 10MW, but with 5MWh of capacity instead of 10MWh.
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ITM flounders in wake of Arup hydrogen deal

ITM Power share price slides, despite the announcement of a collaboration with Ove Arup & Partners on hydrogen refuelling stations and hydrogen power systems. Photo credit: ITM Power

ITM Power share price slides, despite the announcement of a collaboration with Ove Arup & Partners on hydrogen refuelling stations and hydrogen power systems. Photo: ITM Power

By Jason Deign

A deal with engineering and consultancy giant Ove Arup & Partners last week has not prevented hydrogen systems developer ITM Power from sliding in value.

Arup’s memorandum of understanding should have been an end-of-year fillip for ITM Power, but investors on the UK’s Alternative Investment Market punished the company by driving stock levels to their lowest level all year.

As Energy Storage Report went to press the stock was trading at under GBP£22 a share. The stock fell more than 5% the day after the Arup announcement.

At that point the company, which now has a market capitalisation of £38.5m, had lost almost a quarter of its value since May.

“It currently has negative earnings,” noted FinancialMagazin.com, a Belize-based financial intelligence platform.
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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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