UK green energy supplier, Ecotricity has confirmed that it will begin a 100-home trial of its ‘Black Box’ energy storage system later this year.
The energy supplier’s founder and notable green entrepreneur, Dale Vince said that the company’s research project is being driven by the knowledge that energy storage will play a critical role in the country’s move to a low-carbon economy.
Vince explained: “To get to a future where we are powered by renewable energy we need to develop a smart grid and storing energy is an important part of that.
“Often people talk about this needing to be done at a grid scale, but at Ecotricity we want to do this at a household scale, with a device we call the Black Box, which we’ve been working on it for about three years now.”
Vince continued that Ecotricity has carried out “extensive modeling” of the UK’s current grid infrastructure to identify how energy storage can help shoulder the challenge of balancing variable energy sources.
The Black Box concept is a “device that takes houses on and off the grid at different times of the day to avoid the peaks, it’s really like taking cars off the road in the rush hour. This reduces the need for power stations on standby to hit those peaks of demand,” explained Vince.
Energy storage has enjoyed wider media attention in the wake of Tesla’s Powerwall announcement. Elon Musk told the gathered audience at the launch of his energy storage portfolio that “solar panels and batteries are the only path I know that can do this [decarbonsie our electricity supply]. It’s a path that we must, and will, take”.
Vince also agrees that energy storage devices will be pivotal in the global attempt to decarbonise our energy generation. Vince’s vision would see every house in the UK have an energy storage device. He said: “Nationally if every home had one, we’ve modeled that we’d save 15% of power station capacity, which is about the current nuclear contribution, which I think is very important.
“On top of that we can use it as an energy company to absorb wind energy when we’ve got too much and to give it back when we don’t have enough, so its a distributed way of dealing with this intermittency problem. And at the same time improve the load factor of the national grid and reduce the number of power stations we need to build and that are currently sat idle. It’s about efficiency, through technology.”