Energy storage will allow customers greater flexibility

Energy storage has always been one of the most fundamental parts of any energy system, writes Steve Cox, Engineering and Technical Director at, Electricity North West.

Energy storage will allow customers greater flexibility

Historically storage has taken the form of coal stocks or of oil or gas bunkering. As we lead in energy innovation and continually improve and develop towards a de-carbonised energy system storage is becoming increasingly important and essential in everyday life.

“The great thing about storage is that it provides customers with greater control and it allows us to make those changes in buying and selling times without having to change our behaviour or alter our lives.”

We believe Electric Vehicles (EVs) are probably the most immediately obvious storage devices for customers who can readily equate them to the fuel tanks in their petrol or diesel cars.

To gain an insight into how EVs will change our energy thinking it is perhaps useful to think a little more about how we all plan fuel storage in our lives as motorists. We routinely plan for our week ahead or when we have a long journey to ensure we have ‘enough in the tank’. We shop around filling up where fuel is less expensive and avoid high price stations. We are all ‘savvy’ shoppers but we are also creatures of habit and buy from places where we know we will get a good deal. It will be the same with our EVs. Charging up will become second nature as will planning our consumption for the week ahead. 

As more of us buy home generation systems such as Solar Photo Voltaic (PV) we will want to use that in our cars. Where EVs really revolutionise the industry is their ability to allow us to sell our energy to others when the price is high.

This will change how we think about storage allowing a whole range of customers to generate, store and sell energy online. Much of that will start with energy suppliers or internet based businesses, but more and more people will invest in this new market. Storage, both vehicle and fixed, is the key to unlocking this market.

We would also see home generation and energy storage helping to tackle the important issue of fuel poverty. We are a giving and kind-hearted country and these technologies will offer people the ability to donate energy to those less fortunate and give back to the community.

Storage at the grid level

At grid level the technical benefits of storage are very clear, it offers flexibility, capacity and eases many of the challenges posed by renewable generation. Whilst storage solutions are already being used to make the electricity system more stable, we still need to develop storage that can discharge for longer periods of time, for example overnight at a reasonable cost. This will make storage suitable and more accessible for a wider range of roles in the power markets.

From a commercial perspective there are two challenges which must be overcome. The first is the price of storage which is already falling. The second challenge are the regulatory and market changes needed to enable new business models based on local energy trading, storage and generation. These feature very high on our agenda and we’re working closely with the ENA on working to help solve these challenges.

The great thing about storage is that it provides customers with greater control and it allows us to make those changes in buying and selling times without having to change our behaviour or alter our lives.

Therefore storage is a creative solution providing customers with a fit for purpose energy system, which is both affordable and flexible.


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