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Solar and Storage Live 2021: Day One

More than 150 exhibitors are taking part in this year's event.

More than 150 exhibitors are taking part in this year's event.

The Solar Media team are at Solar and Storage Live at Birmingham’s NEC Arena. The Current± editorial team will be reporting live from the event, bringing you all the insight, news and views from the show floor.

Invinity: Rising interest in longer duration storage

Invinity Energy System’s business development director Ed Porter told Current± here at Solar & Storage Live that there are “more and more people” taking an interest in longer duration storage, with the company having today released the outcome of its recent share placing, having raised £25 million.

It’s an evolution on where longer duration storage was two or three years ago, when it was a “side thought on what people were looing at for net zero”. Now, there’s interest from the government, National Grid and consultancies, with a need for longer duration storage to solve locational problems, to solve balancing problems and to “solve problems that we just hadn't had a good consideration of”, which investors are taking note of.

The funds will help to scale Invinity’s products, with Porter stating the next logical step for the company is projects around the 10MW/40MWh mark, followed by 50MW/200MWh.

“We'll take some of that money to continue to scale, prove our business cases and get more experience in markets,” he said.

Reusing and recycling batteries

When it comes to the end of a battery’s life, the first priority is reusing it for another application, and if that’s not possible, then recycling it. That’s according to Fearghal Kearney, client director of Circulor, who was speaking on a panel debate on recycling and reusing batteries.

As it stands, the recycling processes are quite well developed, but instead the difficulty the industry is going to face will be scaling, IHS Market’s senior analyst George Hilton said.

“This isn’t going to be a small scale industry; this is going to be massive,” he said.

Second life applications such as those provided by Connected Energy are a way to reuse batteries before recycling, although CEO Matthew Lumsden said the quality of the batteries is very important for this application, as is data on their previous applications and performance.

He added that the key thing to making second life a reality isn’t just the technology and stability of the batteries, but creating a completely new business model that isn’t just capex based, but includes batteries as a service and managing a battery all the way through its life.

Paul Verrill, executive director of EnAppSys chaired the session on Dynamic Containment.
Paul Verrill, executive director of EnAppSys chaired the session on Dynamic Containment.

Dynamic Containment: The future of battery storage?

How do you create long-term price signals in a market that is increasingly moving towards real-time procurement? This was a key question in the Dynamic Containment and the Future of Energy Storage in the UK panel at Solar and Storage Live.

It’s a discussion that needs to happen more in the industry noted the session’s chair, Paul Verrill, executive director of EnAppSys, especially as battery storage continues to grow in the UK.

Dynamic Containment by itself is not enough of a business case for the development of battery storage, in part because of the short contracts meaning assets are exposed to risk.

“You have to make multiple revenue streams stack up to be able to make a business case,” said Peter Kavanagh chief executive officer at Harmony Energy.

The panel agreed that making revenue streams stackable was key to the development of battery energy storage, with assets already able to play into Dynamic Containment and a number of other markets including the Balancing Mechanism and the wholesale market.

Alongside this, barriers for storage still remain in the form of financing projects as investors get used to the merchant market, grid constraints and connections and routes to market.

Stacking is key, and Dynamic Containment will play a significant role in this, with National Grid ESO’s ancillary services development manager, Faye Relton noting that “from a battery storage point of view, Dynamic Containment is the future".

Fiona Howarth​, chief executive officer at Octopus Electric Vehicles, speaking a SSL21.
Fiona Howarth​, chief executive officer at Octopus Electric Vehicles, speaking a SSL21.

Making sure the EV supply chain keeps pace

To keep the 1.5°C target alive, emissions need to reduce by 45% by 2030, highlighted Fiona Howarth, chief executive officer at Octopus Electric Vehicles in her keynote speech. Up till now however, emissions from the transport sector have only reduced by 5%.

Reflecting on her recent time at the COP26 conference in Glasgow, she said that: “The overarching theme for me is that they’ve made progress, but there’s more to go.”

Within the electric vehicles (EV) space, there is a growing demand for vehicles and for chargepoints from both individuals and fleets, but a number of key challenges remain, not least ensuring the manufacturing and supply chain can meet this demand.

Innovation will be needed between now and 2030, to enable a larger and more efficient supply chain, but also to ensure that the materials are being used more effectively.

“In terms of battery manufacturing and raw materials there’s a lot that needs to be done,” Howarth added.

Solar Energy UK’s chief executive Chris Hewett opened the three day conference in Birmingham.
Solar Energy UK’s chief executive Chris Hewett opened the three day conference in Birmingham.

Solar confidence and determination

Kicking off the first day of the conference, Solar Energy UK’s chief executive Chris Hewett pointed to the “confidence and determination” of the renewable energy representatives at the recent COP26 conference.

As such, he expects the next decade to be huge for the industry, with a pipeline of 24GW of utility-scale solar and 20GW of utility-scale batteries already underway, and the strongest rooftop rollout since 2015 being seen.

Therefore, Hewitt views Solar Energy UK’s target of 40GW of solar in the UK by 2030 as not only achievable but probably beatable.

He identified challenges around the energy network and grid connections, the supply chain and labour issues, but the industry is far from complacent and was working to rise to these challenges.

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