Monday, December 10, 2018

Cheaper farm energy with battery storage

April 30, 2018 by  
Filed under News & Business

An energy revolution is forecast for the UK over the coming decade, with more farmers and landowners investing in energy storage technology.

Some 2.5GW of subsidy-free solar and energy storage projects are set to be deployed in the UK over the next two years, says James Court, head of policy and external affairs at the Renewable Energy Association.

“If a farmer has already invested in renewable technologies, energy storage would add extra value to their onsite generation,” he explains.

Historically, one of the drawbacks of renewable energy such as solar and wind, has been its production variability. But battery technology could help to overcome these peaks and troughs, believes Mr Court.

“It also opens up a range of future diversification opportunities, such as the prospect of hosting charging stations on-farm for electric vehicles.”

The UK is likely to see a much more flexible energy market in the months ahead, he adds. “Time of Use tariffs are currently under consultation, but will allow farms to use electricity when it’s cheapest to do so.”

Developments in lithium ion batteries have reduced the size and cost of the technology. This has led to more feasible ‘behind the meter’ domestic storage and commercial-scale systems, which support existing grid infrastructure.

Mr Court said: “The UK is currently one of the best places in the world for advancing this technology, and I believe farmers will continue to be at the forefront of these developments.”

But farmers may have to move fast. Time is running out for landowners who want to host a large-scale power generation or battery storage scheme, with the deadline for Capacity Market qualification looming.

According to Hugh Taylor, chief executive of independent power consultant Roadnight Taylor, each year National Grid holds an auction to award long-term contracts for the provision of reliable capacity.

To qualify for that auction, developers must submit sites for pre-qualification by a certain date – usually late August or September. To apply, they must have secured exclusive rights with the landowner and have a connection offer.

“It takes up to 65 working days – or three months – for network operators to produce an offer for grid connection,” explains Mr Taylor. This means May is the latest anyone should submit their application to the network operator.

He adds: “Right now, those interested in leasing an acre or two need to get in early. If a project is delayed until National Grid’s 2019 Capacity Market – assuming it holds one – it will be significantly less attractive.”

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