In the next in our series of Efficient Power Solutions blog posts our Operations Manager David Taylor looks at the opportunities afforded by demand side response, comparing it to battery storage to help manage a site’s energy profile and balance the grid.
Facilitated by the National Grid, the Power Response scheme is a drive to increase take-up of demand side response (DSR). This grid balancing mechanism is expected to play a significant role in the balancing of the electrical distribution network in the UK.
Continued decarbonisation and de-centralisation of the existing electricity generation system has combined with the introduction of additional renewable generation into the system. This has brought us to a position whereby a previously “always-on” network is now dependent on external and environmental factors, sometimes beyond the suppliers’ control.
Excess and deficit – the energy conundrum
This combination of factors has resulted in an energy surplus at times. This can occur during periods of long daylight hours, especially in the South West, because of excess solar power connected to the grid. Surplus can also occur when the lack of grid capacity means that wind generated electricity in Scotland cannot be directed to where it is needed (often in the highly populated areas along the M62 or in the Midlands).
Conversely, periods of high pressure or the winter peak periods (with short days and no wind) result in low levels of spare generating capacity in the network. So far, however, the lights have remained on.
Commercial opportunities from DSR
For the most part, DSR is driven by signals from the National Grid requesting sites to reduce energy consumption during periods of stress on the distribution system. Similarly, as discussed above, in some parts of the UK where there are large amounts of renewables, programs are available whereby companies can turn up demand at times of peak generation to reduce supply infrastructure overloading.
Payments are made (by National Grid, through ‘aggregators’) to participating end users in return for changes to their energy usage patterns.
Availability and utilisation
These payments will depend on the volume of capacity available for switching. Generally where a site has around 100 kW or more reliably available for switching an agreement can be made with an aggregator. If 1000 kW or more is available an agreement can be made direct with the supplier to participate in their specific scheme.
The capacity for switching can come from changes to a site load, where possible turning down or even turning off large loads for a period. On-site generation can be utilised and fed to the grid, however, on-site diesel generation is proving more difficult to get agreements on and it is envisaged it will be phased out altogether in the not too distant future. Gas fired and biomass CHP is still a good source of capacity, with the latter also generating payments via the RHI.
It is well publicised that non-commodity charges, such as Time of Use and Distribution Charges, for electricity consumers, are set to rise steeply in forthcoming years, adding significantly to the total cost for every industrial and commercial user especially for those sites on pass-through contracts. These developments may make DSR related projects more attractive.
Battery storage: Is it the answer?
On an industrial and commercial scale, indeed, even at grid level, battery storage is rapidly gaining traction in the markets. It is expected to see significant growth rates in a short period of time. In fact, a number of grid-scale trials are taking shape and even entering service to provide the buffer between the energy being generated and being drawn by users.
As volumes increase and technology rapidly advances, the cost of battery storage is going to fall significantly across the various markets: A domestic unit, capable of storing 14kWh, compatible with a PV system, will be around £3500. Naturally, this is not cheap, however, if it provides free electricity during the hours of darkness, it will be an increasingly attractive proposition as the volumes rise and the costs fall. At the industrial level, removing the need for a red rate grid connection will potentially reap huge dividends.
Storage: it’s top of the energy wish list
Battery storage is now firmly at the top of the list of ‘go to’ energy solutions. If deployed widely, it opens a site up to the possibility of a much simpler type of DSR without impacting on the operation.
Added to this, where it is optimally configured on site, battery storage can be used for a range of applications including: on-site maximum demand peak lopping, peak charging avoidance and triad management, as well as potentially a lower kWh unit cost where on-site renewables or overnight off peak charging is used.
The EPS conclusion
Everything we’ve described here offers up a convincing case for battery storage implementation, especially when the rising non-commodity charges are factored into the return on investment.
For further information on battery storage, renewables, and a range of energy saving technologies, talk to your accomplished partners in energy management, Efficient Power Solutions.[/vc_column][/vc_row]