Tuesday, July 02, 2013

UK power "will be 85% more expensive" without energy storage

Edwin Koot, CEO of SolarPlaza
Without large-scale energy storage, the UK government won't meet its renewable energy ambitions, says Edwin Koot, CEO of SolarPlaza.
The price of power in the UK will be 85% more expensive than in Germany (Europe’s biggest energy market) by May 2015, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

U.K. power will cost £53.06 per megawatt-hour in May 2015, compared with €33.30 in Germany, according to fair value calculations on Bloomberg as of 8:40 a.m. in London.

They attribute the stark difference to Germany’s advanced renewable energy programme, which accounts for 30% of power generation, compared to the UK’s, currently standing at 11.3%.

The 2015 picture compares with an average premium of 17% over the past five years and 80% today, according to data from Marex Spectron Group Ltd., a London broker.

While Germany is seeking to consolidate its status as Europe’s biggest producer of wind and solar power by boosting its share of renewables-sourced energy to 35% in 2015 from 22% last year, the UK is targeting 15% from 11% over the same period, and is predicted to fail to meet the 20% 2020 EU-wide target.

Statkraft AS is closing money-losing gas-fed plants in Germany, while Macquarie Group Ltd. (MQG) and Vitol SA are buying British power stations, betting on gains of as much as 19% in U.K. prices by 2016, according to Societe Generale SA.

“The U.K. has built significantly less renewables to date,” Ilesh Patel, a partner at Baringa Partners LLP, a consulting firm that counts EON SE and Electricite de France SA (EDF) among its clients, said. “Germany has been on a fast-track wind and solar plan.”

Many critics of investment in renewable energy in the UK point to the fact that Germany, which is investing heavily in renewable technologies in its push to abandon its reliance upon nuclear power, currently has higher power prices than the UK.

However, Ed Davey, Energy Secretary, has consistently said that Britain's programme of supporting renewable energy will eventually lead to lower prices.

The key to this development may be investment in energy storage.

Germany is offering incentives worth €25 million to help subsidise the installation of batteries alongside solar PV systems to store electricity for use at night time. Simon Daniel, Founder of energy storage company Moixa Technology, says this "is helping our European neighbour to realise the full potential of renewable technology".

The UK Minister for Energy and Climate Change, Gregory Barker, is to deliver the keynote speech during the upcoming Solar Future UK ’13 event on July 16 at which he is expected to enlarge on his announcement, made at the recent Intersolar conference, that Britain hopes to deploy 20 GW of PV by 2020, in relation to how this affects Britain's energy storage capacity.

At the Intersolar event, Barker said that "the UK Government is totally committed to building a world-class renewables industry” and quoted Prime Minister David Cameron as saying that he wants to "make Britain a global showcase for green innovation and energy efficiency".

At the following day's Energy Storage UK '13 conference, leading industry spokespeople and cleantech businesses from the UK’s energy storage sector will discuss how the latest energy storage systems (ESS) will advance the integration of renewable energy, such as solar PV and wind.

"Deployment potential of solar PV is greater than the UK’s grid storage capacity," comments the CEO of SolarPlaza, Edwin Koot. "Without large-scale energy storage solutions, the UK Government’s ambition to reach this figure presents a significant challenge for National Grid, which has already warned that building more than 10GW will make it difficult to manage the network in its current form."

Director of the Electricity Storage Network, Anthony Price, is warning that "if the Government does not support the use of storage as part of the solution to meet our power shortfall, we will lose this opportunity, and live to regret it.

"What is low cost now will take us down power’s one-way street. It will be difficult and costly to reverse. Our plans for the Smart Grid show we need storage and we must seize this opportunity now.”

The intermittency of solar PV and wind requires utilities to maintain additional spinning reserve from polluting power stations to pick up loads, or, in the future, use demand-side reduction techniques in the capacity market, in the event of peak demand spikes.

If the potential of intermittent renewables is to be fully realised, the National Grid will require fast-acting energy storage systems that can dispatch power and respond quickly to network imbalances, says Price.

That the power industry and policy makers are not paying sufficient attention to the challenges arising from integrating intermittent power generation into the system was felt by 60% of attendees polled at the recent POWER-GEN Europe and its co-located conference, Renewable Energy World Europe, between 4-6 June at the Messe Wien, Vienna.

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