By Dave Pell, Commercial Director, AMTE Power.
Renewable power generation has grown significantly in recent decades but another leap forward is needed to hit countries’ climate change pledges to be net zero by 2050. In the UK specifically the Prime Minister announced an ambition last year for clean sources to generate 100% of electricity by 2035.
With renewables’ share of generation in the UK currently between 35 to 40%, how can this dramatic acceleration be achieved? Part of the answer lies in battery energy storage.
Boosting storage capacity is essential to developing a more stable electricity supply from wind and solar power especially and there is huge potential for the storage sector to grow – here in the UK and around the world. Bloomberg New Energy Finance predicts global capacity will expand 20 times over by 2030.
Alongside driving up renewables’ share, storage can also support the UK’s energy resilience and potentially bring benefits for consumers’ wallets too as the cost of living crisis bites.
Delivering consistency of supply
The key challenge for renewables is how to manage downtime – how do we keep the lights on when the sun doesn’t shine or the wind doesn’t below? UK ONS data shows just how big an impact changing weather conditions can have. In Q3 2021, renewable electricity generation was 24.3 TWh, 17 per cent less than the same quarter in 2020 and the lowest since 2017 as poor conditions for generation, in particular low windspeed, reduced output.
Increased storage capacity can provide the platform to help even out these fluctuations and enable better regulation of the flow of power into the grid, which is not designed for peaks and troughs of supply. In future we will see more battery facilities at renewable power farms and in time, at our homes too. These allow for localised energy generation and storage, helping to balance strains on national grids.
Maintaining energy security
Alongside environmental goals, there is a geopolitical rationale for the UK to invest in battery storage to reduce our reliance on foreign energy imports, such as gas. As the UK and its European neighbours phase out coal and move to renewables, gas has plugged the gap when unfavourable weather conditions prevent wind and solar farms from operating.
This has left nations – and consumers – exposed to volatile gas pricing when there is a scramble for supply. Wholesale gas prices soared in the second half of 2021, reflecting a shortage in European stocks after a cold winter and a resurgence in demand after the worst of the pandemic.
For governments this gas dependency also has worrying implications for national energy security, leaving them vulnerable to pressure from gas exporting countries who may threaten, or even decide to turn off the tap to extract political leverage. Rising tensions with Russia over Ukraine are a key example.
Driving change with cell technologies
Battery storage must be at the centre of governments’ plans to tackle the climate crisis and speed up the move to clean energy sources. Cell technologies like ours at AMTE Power will be at the heart of the shift and this market will grow exponentially over the years to come – we’ll be ready to meet the demand.