Battery storage is the perfect technology to enable widespread use of demand response and a stable power grid argues Simon Daniel.
Reducing peak loads is a critical challenge for the future of the UK's energy network. Currently, domestic power usage is responsible for two-thirds of peak demand. This drives up infrastructure costs and peak prices as networks face reducing capacity margin, wholesale price spikes and higher balancing costs.
Last month, I presented some views to the Lords Economic Affairs Committee and participated in a round-table for BEIS's new consultation on flexibility and how storage can help as an on-demand technology.
"Technology will have to provide a solution and step in where behavioural change cannot be effective."
As renewable energy represents more of our electricity supply, peaks and troughs in supply as well as demand will become more complex. But it is the demand side where real response is needed. In the UK, the peak electricity demand period is 4-7pm, as customers arrive home and begin to use their appliances.
One response has been to attempt to shift customer loads out of peak time with tariffs that incentivise using more off peak energy to power white goods.
In reality, customers are unlikely to provide the reliable, predictable and long-term response that is required. Changing consumer behavior cannot be relied on as an ‘alternative infrastructure' in response to the time of day or smart prices with smart meters.
There are two problems. The first is immediate. Energy demand is rising in for the proliferation of low-power electronic devices that are always on, or - like mobile phones - charged at whatever time they are needed, even if that is at peak.
The second problem is long term: how will households be using energy in 2030? We have no idea as things are changing so fast - they may be arriving home in an electric vehicle that needs charging overnight, using 3D printing, working from home several days per week, and may have many other new uses of electricity.
Technology will have to provide a solution and step in where behavioural change cannot be effective.
Storage is the perfect demand technology as it can both push and pull power. It is independent of season and does not rely on the householder to be home. At the same time, it's predictable and can be factored in as long term infrastructure.
Moixa leads the world in smart battery technology, with our all-in-one battery and inverter system, suitable for any home. Storage can work alongside existing infrastructure. Heat maps of the network already show where it is under strain and the cost of upgrading it would be charged to customers.
Our Smart Batteries are being installed in homes across the UK to cut electricity bills and our Smart Battery system managers the battery charge and discharge to avoid consumption during peak time and help delay grid reinforcement.
What does that mean for networks? Moixa's solar and battery combination is a powerful tool for generating and managing on-site power. Cumulatively, such installations will reduce the need to export across the grid and that means the charging structure will change. You can end up with a grid that switches off during the day when solar and wind are generating, and as a result the costs have to be higher for using the infrastructure in the evening to recoup the investment.
We believe that smart energy storage can work alongside and complement the grid. If you use storage to manage "wrong time of day" production you have a more perfect model.
So, at Moixa we right-size our battery installations to power a third of the day. Above that level, the economics are less favourable. The grid's energy should power items like kettles and washing machines, which on average are rarely on.
Batteries, if used correctly in the system, can deliver a flat grid. Home energy systems combining batteries, solar and automation, can do that over the long term. While customer behaviour can change as new devices arise, and the energy system continues to develop in unpredictable ways, batteries combined with automation offer a far more powerful demand management tool.