The United Nations recently reported that the uptake of renewable energy is moving faster and further than projected, with use of renewable sources in Europe set to double by 2027. And last year the UK generated a record amount of wind-powered electricity.
Good progress has been made in the creation of clean energy, and there are more developments in the pipeline such as Dogger Bank off the coast of Yorkshire, which will become the world’s largest offshore windfarm, and more solar farms planned for across the country.
But there’s still a missing piece of the puzzle. How do we use this renewable energy to power homes and industry on a consistent basis?
Preparing for when the wind doesn’t blow and the sun doesn’t shine
Our current energy network lacks the infrastructure to store excess electricity, meaning that sometimes wind farms are paid to temporarily shut down operations in efforts to avoid overloading the grid. In 2020, constraint payments to three Scottish windfarms totalled nearly £25 million to limit outputs by almost half their potential capacity.
On the other hand, when there is a lull in renewable generation, the energy gap has to be made up with alternatives such as gas or coal. This can be costly, particularly when the supply of imported power is disrupted, as we have seen as a result of the ongoing war in Ukraine.
Battery energy storage is essential for making the most of the renewable power generated, as it stores power to be used at a later date, meaning we can continue to benefit from clean, low cost electricity whatever the weather.
Energy storage systems can guarantee that the lights stay on when the sun doesn’t shine or the wind doesn’t blow, meaning energy from renewable sources can be used around the clock. It’s also the economical choice too, ensuring that no power generated goes to waste.
Unlocking the opportunity
Although the sector remains in relative infancy compared to the great steps taken in new methods of power generation, energy storage systems are steadily growing, particularly in the UK which is predicted to be the biggest market in Europe for grid-scale battery systems by 2030 at 12.5 GW.
But as the adage goes, Rome wasn’t built in a day. Without a shift in focus for investment and development, we may find ourselves missing out on the opportunity at hand. So what is needed?
At the cell level, we need to look at the chemistry we’re using to expand energy density and the amount of electricity available to be stored. Similarly, technology needs to be able to cope with fluctuations in supply, along with maximising the amount of time batteries can hold charge for. At AMTE Power, we’re developing our UltraSafe cell specifically for these energy storage applications.
Implementing this technology requires work too. Government and industry can encourage the development of energy storage systems by removing the friction involved in getting these facilities online. Whether that’s subsidies and grants to demonstrate the appetite for this infrastructure or planning policy reform to accelerate approvals for energy storage sites, support is needed to unlock these benefits more quickly.
A clean energy network must and will be part of our future. We’re already well on the way to achieving it, but there is still work to be done to make robust renewable infrastructure a reality. Battery energy storage systems are an essential investment to make as part of this journey, making sure that the UK’s hopes for net zero don’t get left in the dark.