“In my opinion, the addition of battery energy storage coupled with solar can get renewable penetration to the next level,” said Ioannis Grammatikakis, UK country manager at Power Factors.
Also recognised as co-location, the coupling of renewable generation sources, such as wind and solar, with battery energy storage systems (BESS) could be a crucial development in both stabilising the UK energy grid and maximising the efficiency of renewable generation projects.
Batteries could also see further traction in the UK energy market with government ministers having passed legislation in July that removes barriers for storage projects above 50MW in England and 350MW in Wales. The government hopes that it could lead to storage projects five times the size of those currently in operation.
However, Grammatikakis believes further support could be made in the UK to further incentive the creation of co-location between BESS and solar, much like the German Government has.
“What I’m seeing in countries like Germany are incentives to add batteries into their solar sites. This is an example that I think a lot of countries can follow,” Grammatikakis said during the latest Current± Briefings webinar this morning (25 October).
“In places like California and Australia we see a lot of big-scale solar projects that are being built together with BESS. We need to see this in the UK.”
A method in which the UK could incentivise project developers to co-locate is by creating a “dynamic market” which prompts owners to additionally provide grid services, Grammatikakis indicated.
Another crucial factor discussed by Grammatikakis is the technological advancement that is being achieved via renewable energy system (RES) plants. Grammatikakis said that although RES plants used to be a “liability to the grid” the technological advancements being achieved in the sector as of late have helped the power plants become “smarter” and thus have helped them become an asset.
“RES plants have become smarter, more controllable and more predictable. Batteries are also helping to improve the stability of the grid,” he said.
Smart technologies have also prompted the UK Government to explore the creation of a “digital spine” for the energy system to facilitate efficient system operation, improve access to new markets and support development of new services for a smart and flexible energy system.
With the launch of a feasibility study, this will help contribute to policy development for the digitalisation of the UK’s energy system. The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) claims a smart, flexible energy system can improve energy security and help deliver net zero by 2050 at a lower cost to the consumer.
This will support grid stability and also support the integration of renewable generation projects into the UK energy system – something that could prove pivotal in reaching net zero targets by 2050.
Another factor raised by Grammatikakis was the creation of microgrids. He indicated that combining renewable generation technologies and BESS, among other distributed energy equipment, can help form a microgrid, a localised energy system that is able to function independently.
“There are a lot of microgrids in African countries mainly because the grid there is not very good. There are many areas where it is either non-existent or unstable. Because of this, there is a huge market here to build microgrids and help serve the people on the continent,” he said.
Oil and gas major Shell recognised the potential to develop microgrids in Africa back in 2019 and invested in African renewables and microgrid provider PowerGen Renewable Energy as it looked to upscale its energy access business.
Shell had been amongst a range of companies to participate in a Series B investment round held by PowerGen, which included the likes of Japanese bank Sumitomo Corporation and Renewable Energy Performance Platform.
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