In recent years, the renewables landscape has seen a large shift as solar farms and wind turbines have become commonplace. In the UK, renewable energy as a proportion of total electricity generation has increased year over year, with energy trends data from the Department for Energy and Climate Change (DECC) indicating that renewables’ share of electricity generation reached record levels in 2015. With future targets in place for renewable energy generation, that trend is likely to continue.
According to a new report by WSP, energy storage may represent the missing link to achieving a balance between UK energy generation and fluctuating, intermittent demand. The report, titled Energy Storage: the final piece in the jigsaw, suggests that energy users and developers should act fast to capitalize on an increasing number of opportunities, given that rapid technological evolution is allowing energy storage techniques to be increasingly deployed at meaningful scale.
Some of the existing energy storage technologies examined by the research report include:
- Compressed Air Energy Storage (CAES);
- Hydrogen economies;
- Thermal storage.
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The report notes that storing energy will play a crucial role in the future and is at least part of the solution to current challenges and costs. During periods of insufficient power generation, energy storage can act as additional supply, and can absorb any additional demand when there is too much generation.
“Storing energy on a large scale will cut energy bills for everyone, while reducing CO2 emissions, supporting the transition to an all-electric city and possibly opening the door to a 100% renewable energy supply,” explains Katherine Jackson, Technical Director at WSP . “Energy storage is evolving quickly and companies need to develop a practical strategy that leverages this emerging opportunity.”
The report highlights two main ways that energy storage can cut costs for end users:
- Daily price variations: Distribution Use of System (DUoS) charges give non-domestic users an incentive to reduce energy demand at peak times. End users can benefit by charging batteries during times of low cost and demand and then using the stored energy during more expensive times.
- Balancing services: While balancing generation with demand can be difficult in constantly changing conditions, there are several mechanisms available to help achieve cost-effective results, some of which involve contracting with third party service providers.