The drive towards energy storage becoming an integral part of the UK’s new 21stC distributed grid took further steps last month when Arlington Energy raised £200M towards an eventual 1GW gas peaker and storage portfolio, and we saw Amazon planning energy storage of a suggested 750kW power and 3MWh of capacity on a new warehouse. The building will also have around 3.5MWp of solar PV on the roof.

These deals confirm firstly that storage seems to be here to stay. As I mentioned last month, without storage becoming widespread and localised, it will be hard to make the new all-electric economy work. Storage provides the necessary interface between localised green generation and consumers.

We are working on a 2.5MW roof design as we speak, again for one of the new “big shed” warehouses dominating commercial property development this year. This will have critical processes internally – mainly in the form of a complex and highly automated internal stock control and despatch system.  This must not go down, so a UPS was called for.

Solar panels on warehouse roof

Now that storage is almost mainstream, and the possible revenues from the grid are understood, it’s possible to have seamless UPS which pays for itself – it is literally FREE. So while the energy storage is available to cover any outage, it spends most of its time generating externally derived revenues. This it’s what’s going to power the warehouse when the grid fails, and it might not cost the customer anything.

We are sure that this ability to fund larger scale similar projects which combine solar and storage will grow rapidly as awareness of their financial (and physical) effectiveness grows.

We have done pretty well in reducing our CO2 output. If anyone had suggested in the late 80’s that within 30 years we would have changed the face of UK generation to a point where our CO2 emissions are 43% below those in 1990, we would have laughed until our sides split.

Emissions graph

However, if we are to meet the target of taking this 43% up to 80% by 2050, a lot more work is required. It’s a bit like trying to go faster in a car. Any old banger nowadays can do 100mph. If you want to reach 150mph, you’ll pay a lot more. . . . .and to reach 200mph, you’ll need very deep pockets indeed. So with CO2. We have picked off the easily visible raspberries, and now we have to look under the leaves.

According to the latest Aurora Research report, reaching this target will require a 230% increase in low carbon generation to over 130GW of capacity. Even if this does not happen, it’s clear that solar must continue to be encouraged by all governments, and that storage will be a key technology partner of most solar PV systems.

Tax benefits

Although I have criticised government commitment in the past, the budget had at least some good news. The AIA (Annual Investment Allowance) will be increase to £1M from 1st January for a two year period. The AIA has always been great as far as solar is concerned, as 100% of the cost can be written off against tax in Y1. If  businesses are not regularly capital intensive, (for example we’re talking to a large fitness centre at present), this can represent a huge tax saving, which can make a renewable energy project look very attractive.

Renewable Capacity

The drive towards renewables is really unstoppable now. This month, for the first time ever, the generating capacity renewable energy overtook that of fossil fuel based systems.

In the past five (yes, only five) years, renewable capacity has tripled, while fossil fuels have fallen by 30%. The combined capacity of solar, wind, biomass and hydro power reached 41.9GW, while fossil fuel capacity was at 41.2GW.

That really is an astonishing tribute to capitalism’s ability to drive new technologies forward.

Alternative energy - Powersun Solar PV