The UK has installed significant amounts of renewable energy generation in recent years, mainly in the form of solar panels and wind turbines. This has the advantage of increasing the amount of home grown renewable energy resources we use and reducing our carbon emissions. However solar and wind generation can also be intermittent since no power is produced when it gets dark or the wind stops blowing.
Energy storage is poised to play a bigger part in our electricity grid, and is critical for further increasing the penetration of renewable electricity energy generation and maximising the value that it provides. This is because renewable energy can be stored and released when needed, providing a continuous flow of clean energy during periods of high demand or when wind and solar energy is unavailable.
Beyond enabling the increased use of renewable electricity generation, improved energy storage technologies have several benefits:
A More Balanced Grid:
The UK grid is experiencing an increase in renewable energy generation sources and a reduction in coal fired generation connected to it. The contribution that synchronous generation makes to stabilising the grid is therefore reducing, which is in turn decreasing the level of system inertia, particularly on days where there are relatively high levels of renewable energy generation and low demand. This in turn makes it more difficult for the frequency of the grid to be maintained within normal operating limits, which means System Operators need to procure additional frequency response services. Energy storage systems have been identified as an excellent resource for achieving this, given their ability to provide a sub-second response following a system disturbance.
A more resilient grid is more resistant to disruptions such as severe weather events. Energy storage means we can be less reliant on large, centralised power stations and also upon the transmission lines required to move power from these around the country to where it’s consumed.
Fossil fuel power plants are often using as ‘peaking plants’ or to provide grid support services, and these can be displaced by energy storage projects, meaning carbon dioxide emissions can be significantly reduced. Additionally, with many coal-fired power stations reaching the end of their life in the UK combined with the high cost of nuclear stations, energy storage opens up the opportunity to integrate additional renewable energy generation where it may not have been possible otherwise.
Energy storage can lower the cost of essential grid services. For example battery storage can provide grid ancillary services faster and more reliably than traditional power plant resources. This translates into cost savings for energy users and a more competitive and resilient economy in general.
Conventional energy generators can only supply power, whereas energy storage can both supply and discharge power. This means it can provide double the resource (and essentially twice the value to the grid) for the same installed capacity. Batteries can provide power in less than half a second and can also be rapidly deployed in comparison to large, centralized power stations that take many years to plan, develop and construct.
Luminous Energy is currently seeking suitable sites to lease for battery storage projects across the UK. Leasing land for an energy storage project presents an opportunity for farmers to have a guaranteed income for the duration of the lease. This income is seen as favourable by lending institutions, which enable landowners to invest in new equipment or diversification projects. The land should typically, but not exclusively, have the following characteristics:
- At least 0.5 acres of generally flat land
- Agricultural land classified as Grade 3 or lower on the provisional Agricultural Land Classification Map, or brownfield land
- Proximity to 33kv/66kv power line or less than 3km from a primary substation
- Minimal visibility from key public vantage points or heavily populated areas
- Not be located within a flood zone (unless in an area benefitting from flood protection), National Park or Site of Special Scientific Interest
- Not be in an area where a development is likely to compromise the setting of a scheduled monument or listed building