As the National Grid continues to creak under increasing demands for electricity, Jason Yates of Riello UPS explores whether it’s time businesses go it alone and put their power generation needs in their own hands.
With the much-heralded – and much-delayed – Hinkley Point nuclear power plant still years away from full functionality, our nation’s growing energy needs are dependent on network infrastructure dogged by decades of underinvestment.
Along with an increased emphasis on renewables, demand side response (DSR) is one of the principal methods the National Grid employs to try and maintain the tricky balance between increasing demand and limited supply.
Under DSR, organisations are incentivised to shift energy use from peak to off-peak times, offsetting the nation’s power requirements in real-time without the need for additional electricity generation.
And thanks to recent developments in lithium-ion (li-ion) battery technology, which have significantly reduced their costs, businesses can also store energy and either use it as a cheaper alternative to mains supply or sell any surplus back to the National Grid.
Whether it’s from small-scale renewables like solar or wind, energy-intensive factories with sizeable on-site combined heat and power plants, or businesses using the batteries in their uninterruptible power supply (UPS) backup, this kind of dynamic storage will play an increasingly important part in our move towards a more flexible, low-carbon energy mix.
The Government argues broadening participation in DSR by 5% could save consumers £500 million a year. And if just 5% of peak demand is met from demand side response, it’d be the equivalent of building a new nuclear power station – without the eye-watering cost or lengthy construction period!
While last December, a joint-report from the Renewable Energy Association and All-Party Parliamentary Group on Energy Storage predicts UK battery storage will top 8 GW by 2021, up from just over 60 MW of existing capacity.
Read more: The IET
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