We’re aware at Brodies of the increasing relevance of energy storage both to our clients and the renewables industry at large.
While storage technologies are still in their infancy when it comes to commercialisation and use beyond a small number of projects, their potential is clear, and we’re keen to engage in the debate surrounding their future development and implementation.
Green business forum EcoConnect recently hosted a panel debate on the future of energy storage in Scotland, so I went along to get a sense of the main concerns for parties across the energy sector. There were a number of key points raised:
- There is widespread recognition that the continued withdrawal of renewables subsidies could have an unexpected knock-on effect – with energy storage becoming a more popular and profitable model than the PPA for many Scottish rural projects. This brings with it the question of whether the industry is ready to meet that demand – the answer to which is likely to depend on scale. While it may be several years before storage becomes a viable route, it will continue to be of interest to those projects that have been and will be affected by the recent legislative changes.
- The rise of domestic generation – fuelled by, among other things, the accessibility of low-cost solar PV materials – is also likely to have a significant impact; although there is a clear division of views on this topic. On the one hand it might be said that the development of energy storage will eventually be more “people” than industry-driven, and that there are foreseeable advantages in more small-scale projects storing their energy off-grid. On the other hand, it could be said the grid will always have a major part to play in supplying baseload power to large factories and infrastructure.
- There is an acknowledgment across the board that future solutions won’t simply involve or apply to power, and that the heat and transport sectors will also be crucial – both in the development of the necessary technologies and in their wider-scale deployment. There has been some recent Parliamentary comment on the possibility of using hydrogen to harmonise energy storage, heat provision and transport fuel. It will be interesting to see whether there is any contribution from DECC on this topic going forward.
As with any new technology, it is possible that the development and large-scale deployment of energy storage might be hampered by long lead times and delayed revenue returns for investors.
It remains to be seen whether the government will offer incentives for uptake – either in the form of new policy support or amendments to existing policies such as CfDs or the capacity mechanism.
It would be helpful if government would confirm that the incorporation of storage solutions will not prejudice support under existing support mechanisms. We’ll be keeping a close eye on this issue and will be poised to respond to updates as they occur.
Please feel free to continue the debate with your comments or questions below. If you have a query regarding a particular project, get in touch with a member of Brodies’ Renewables team.
On October 28, 2015