New Tech Fund Launched to Help Cut Heavy Industry Emissions

heavy industry

During the summer legislation was passed to cut UK carbon emissions to net zero by 2050, the first major economy to set this target. This was done to make sure the UK ends its contribution to global heating. It was clear that action needed to be taken to fulfil this target.

The UK government has designed a scheme which will offer funds over the next 5 years to businesses with high power use. The idea behind the Industrial Energy Transformation Fund (IETF), an investment of £315m is to find new technologies that can shrink the carbon footprint of the most polluting factories in order to help meet the UK’s climate targets. Energy intensive companies such as manufacturers will be able to invest in new technology which can make their operation more efficient and so reduce their energy use. The scheme will be launched next summer, and businesses will be able to compete for a share of up to £30m, with a second phase following in 2021.

Plans have been set out by the government to drastically improve the energy efficiency of commercial buildings while also benefiting businesses by saving them up to £1 billion a year on their energy bills by 2030. Not only will efficiency be improved, but carbon emissions will be cut by 2m tonnes or the equivalent of taking nearly 200,000 cars of the road each year. Included in the scheme is improving the energy performance of rented commercial buildings and setting a minimum energy efficiency standard of Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) band B by 2030.

The announcement of the fund came after the Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) had released a raft of new energy proposals which included a focus on making commercial buildings more efficient.

The government proposed the £250m Clean Steel Fund in late August this year and the Industrial Energy Transformation Fund builds, on this scheme to help clean up climate emissions from the UK’s steel manufacturing industry.

Energy minister Kwasi Kwarteng said the fund will bolster investment in clean energy as it works towards its climate targets.

Kwarteng said that providing energy intensive businesses with the latest low-emission technologies will not only help the UK meet its climate targets but has the potential to help companies remain competitive and create skilled well-paid jobs.

There are 8 industrial sectors, namely cement, ceramics, chemicals, food and drink, glass, paper, iron and steel, and oil refining that currently emit two-thirds of all industrial carbon emissions according to the government.

The government are aware that some businesses from various sectors are already taking steps to reduce their energy consumption and carbon footprint.

Government ministers are keen to fund tried and tested low-carbon industrial processes, as well as exploring new options that will keep British industries agile.

A significant change in technology for heavy industry will be needed as it is expected to be one of the most difficult areas to decarbonise.

For example, Nestle has successfully cut energy costs by nearly £150,000 every year by using high temperature heat pumps for heating and cooling during the chocolate manufacturing process.

Manufacturer Ibstock Bricks are using brick-building robots to help make repetitive manufacturing processes more efficient and as a result they have halved emissions output for every brick produced.

Other factories are testing new software which use algorithms to close down non-essential machines when renewable energy is low and demand from the national energy grid is high. This process helps to reduces bills by only using electricity at cheaper times when renewable energy output is higher.

Manufacturer Saint-Gobain, are saving £165,000 a year in energy costs by becoming more responsive to demand, powering down its factories at peak energy periods

A further example is in the ceramics sector, where energy accounts for a third of its production costs. Heat reduction programmes have reduced the heat used to glaze tableware by 5%, helping cut their carbon footprint by 25%

The funding will allow more businesses to take steps like this to increase their energy efficiency.

Business, Energy and Clean Growth Minister Kwasi Kwarteng said:

“The UK is already cutting emissions faster than any other major economy and we’re the first to legislate to end our contribution to climate change entirely.

Eliminating emissions from industry is key to achieving this but doing so does not have to mean compromising our business success. That’s why we’re bolstering our investment in clean growth.

Ensuring energy-intensive businesses are equipped with the latest low-emission technologies will not only help our transition to net-zero but will also ensure that these companies are more agile and competitive going forward, creating new skilled and well-paid jobs.”

Mike Childs, Friends of the Earth head of policy, said in response to this report:

‘Too much of the UK’s emissions reductions since 1990 have been through industry moving overseas. We need to keep the industry in the UK and ensure it is clean and green.’

Heavy industry is thought to be one of the most challenging areas to decarbonise. Embracing new technology will be essential to reduce emissions from industry. Shrinking their carbon footprint will require a sustained and focused effort.

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How Healthy is the Heat Pump Market Today?

air source heat pump

Heating our homes and businesses is still one of the most challenging areas of the UK energy system to be decarbonised. Many avenues are being researched, including deeper levels of energy efficiency, broad-scale electrification, low-carbon heat networks and the development of hydrogen as a new heating fuel.

Latest industry analysis has revealedthat in 2018 the heat pump market grew by over 20% in units delivered compared to 2017. This growth is great news for the heat pump industry, as well as the environment, since heat pumps make considerable carbon savings when compared to traditional fossil fuel alternatives. It is also indicative of the times we live in, as more customers are switching away from fossil fuel boilers and installing energy efficient heat pumps in their homes.

A near-term, low carbon solution for heating our homes could be to electrify the provision of domestic heat through heat pumps, allied with heat storage technologies. The big question that needs to be addressed is whether it is workable to roll out heat pumps in large numbers and more pertinently whether heat pumps will be able to replace gas boilers in a decarbonised future.

Heat pumps are an excellent choice for housebuilders. Because heat pumps make significant reductions to the carbon dioxide emissions for a property, considerable improvements will be created in the EPC (energy performance certificate) ratings for the property. This not only helps with building regulations compliance but also potential homebuyers who are becoming increasingly discerning about the choices they make with heating and hot water in the property. Traditional oil and LPG boilers are being seen more and more as unattractive propositions.

Furthermore, the Government plans to ban boilers in new build homes by 2025 so it would be wise to get started sooner rather than later.

Heat pumps are the leading low-carbon option for buildings not connected to the gas grid. The number of installed heat pumps in the UK is projected to rise from 150,000 in 2018 to between four and six million by 2035. However, the rate of heat pump installations so far has been very slow, achieving an average of only 18,000 installations each year since the start of the Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) in 2011.

The Domestic RHI provides financial incentives to owners of domestic properties who install renewable heating technologies such as ground source heat pumps and solar thermal on their premises. These payment amounts are determined by the amount of renewable heat generated by the household, and the current tariff rates.

Advanced technologies such as dual-source heat pumps, are expected to offer growth opportunities to the market. Dual source heat pump systems consist of a main cold source heat pump that is supported by an additional heat source. There are two options available that have been studied in detail, air source heat pumps combined with solar collectors and ground source heat pumps coupled with solar collectors.

Regen’s (a not-for-profit centre of energy expertise and market insight) recent analysis shows that up until now that domestic heat pumps have generally been installed in new-build properties, social housing developments or properties that are not connected to the gas network. Heat pumps have proved to be attractive in these cases because they are either replacing more expensive heating solutions such as oil, LPG or direct electricity or in the case of new developments or multiple-occupancy buildings there are benefits from reduced installation costs. 

Currently, while the carbon savings are significant in replacing a gas central heating system with a standard heat pump system there is only limited financial value in doing so. The main problem here is the higher price of electricity compared to gas. With the present costs involved there are no energy bill savings for on-gas houses meaning the total value generated is, therefore, the difference between the RHI income and the capital cost of installing a heat pump system.

There are however certain conditions that would improve the case for installing a heat pump in an ‘on-gas’ house. An ideal time to install a heat pump is when your boiler needs replacing to avoid the boiler replacement cost. If your property has a suitable outside area available horizontal ground loops could be used to reduce groundwork costs. Cost per customer could also be lowered if you are able to use a shared water or ground loop that connects a series of heat pumps. Other options include connecting to a heat network that supplies waste heat at a cheaper rate (city-wide heat networks are under construction in Bristol) or purchasing heat pumps in bulk to achieve economies of scale. If you can combine all these options installing a heat pump could become much more attractive though not all homes will be suitable.

If you are considering installing a heat pump in an electrically heated home the value will vary depending on your heat demand. Greater demand will mean greater bill savings, more RHI income and importantly more carbon emissions avoided. If you have a small electrically heated flat with a lower heat demand a small 3 KW Ground source heat pump connected to a shared ground loop can be used which will work out cheaper to install and maintain.

In the current market making a case for heat pump installations in on-gas properties is very difficult due to the comparatively low price of gas. It is however encouraging to see that there are strong financial inducements for installing heat pumps in many off-gas and new-build properties.

Around 87% of UK homes are connected to the gas grid which makes it a major challenge to decarbonise domestic heat. If heat pumps are to play a major part in reducing our carbon emissions, there will need to be cost reductions in addition to continued support through the RHI or a similar scheme post 2021. Many of the opportunities for cost-reduction could be delivered by an energy service company offering a supply, installation and service package over the lifetime of the asset.

The heat pump market is still in its infancy but there is scope for manufacturing, installation and maintenance processes to be optimised and as a result less costly in the future.

Are UK Businesses Ready to Meet the Carbon Neutral Target?

uk business carbon reduction

Before Theresa May left office in March this year one of her final acts as Prime Minister was to commit the UK to becoming a net-zero economy by 2050. However, many companies are doing nothing to prepare. The new carbon emissions targets require that as much as possible of the UK’s carbon dioxide emissions are cut by 2050, and that those remaining should be offset with new technology such as carbon capture and storage. But are businesses actually acting on this?

A report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change was published last year looking into how the British government could deal with the growing issue of global warming. It exposed some of the challenges and opportunities that businesses will face. The report disclosed the fact that the world is running out of time to deal with global warming. The research warned of heat waves, rising seas and a “shocking rise in hunger” if warming is not limited to 1.5C (2.7F) above pre-industrial levels.

The UK Committee on Climate Change issued a report in May this year offering advice to the government on how to meet environmental targets. This advice will have far-reaching effects on business in the future.

A new YouGov B2B poll in October showed that only 46% of businesses in the UK have set in motion plans to go carbon neutral by 2050. One in eight businesses are set to kick their carbon emissions in the next year while one in ten people in business say their company is already carbon neutral.

Despite the new rules 31% of businesses said that they had no plans to be carbon neutral at all. Though, contrary to this 59% of people in business think that business and industry can play an effective part in the battle against climate change.

Although a third of businesses are not planning to go carbon free, a great majority (92%) of people in business believe that climate is changing and that it is at least in part induced by humans. Just 2% said that they did not believe that climate was changing at all.

The Climate Change Act means the UK government has committed by law to reduce emissions by at least 100% of 1990 levels (net zero) by 2050. This includes reducing emissions from the devolved administrations (Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland), which currently account for about 20% of the UK’s emissions. In this way the UK will contribute to global emission reductions in order to limit global temperature rising as little as possible above 2%.

So that these targets can be met the UK government has set five-yearly carbon budgets which currently run until 2032. Each budget restricts the amount of greenhouse gas that the UK can legally emit in a five-year period. Currently the UK is in the third carbon budget period (2018-2022).

Godrun Cartwright, environment director at Business in the Community, said earlier this year that British businesses hope for a stable, clear path on climate change regulations.

Godrun Cartwright said:

“The UK has rightly been seen as a world leader on climate change since the Climate Change Act. However, the lack of a stable policy environment in the UK has made it challenging for business to plan and take decisive action with certainty.”

The Committee on Climate Change (CCC) report proposed long-term measures to limit global warming and presented businesses with an opportunity to be leaders in environmental thinking.

Back in June Professor Jonatan Pinkse, of Alliance Manchester Business School said:

 “Companies could have a huge influence on customer behaviour if they manage to sell the more climate-friendly alternatives.”

Kirsty Britz, director of sustainable banking at RBS, said at the time:

“I think the CCC report is important. It builds on the urgency of the IPCC report, and gives a relatively optimistic, pragmatic approach. The report suggests that net-zero is not going to be easy, but it is possible.”

Kirsty Britz went on to say:

“Everyone needs to be thinking about it. For us, as a big business, what is our role? How do we use our reach to accelerate that change? We know it can’t be one part of society alone: it has to be a combination of individuals, government, business and NGOs.”

The report suggested that the supply of low-carbon electricity must quadruple by 2050 and that efficient buildings and low-carbon heating must become standard.

Suggested measures for businesses included choosing product designs that last longer, along with increased reuse and recycling and switching to renewable power sources.

Mike Thompson, the CCC’s head of carbon budgets said:

“The reaction from businesses in particular has been very positive, with organisations such as the CBI, Aldersgate Group and the TUC coming out strongly in support of our recommendations.”

Mike Thompson said:

 “Almost all sectors will need to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions to zero in order to end the UK’s contribution to global warming by 2050. This means doubling the size of the electricity sector (and quadrupling the low-carbon supply); switching all our cars and vans to run on electricity; creating a new low-carbon hydrogen industry and using that hydrogen in ships, industry, some HGVs and perhaps for heating and power generation; delivering infrastructure for carbon capture and storage technology across the country; and transforming how we use a fifth of our agricultural land.”

Mr Thompson said that companies will see benefits in the form of cost savings, improved technology and the health of their workers. There are also brand benefits to be had, particularly with companies such as Apple already using 100% renewable electricity.

Ms Britz said that companies engaging with climate change have begun to clearly understand their own influence.

She said:

“It’s about how to manage your own impact. Think about where, as a business, your influence lies. Is it services, supply chain, your employees? That can be the foundation of your approach to climate change.”

She said that in the long-term consumers will increasingly want the companies they use to be climate conscious. Banks are already seeing increased interest in climate change issues and greater demand from customers.

Ms Britz said:

“It has affected the way we interact with customers. How can we support them to manage their costs? We’re one of the UK’s leading lenders to the sustainable energy sector, including renewable energy, energy efficiency and low-carbon vehicles. It’s really a positive thing. At a group level, we’re having many more conversations about climate change – and it is accelerating month on month. I think the Attenborough effect is at work. There certainly appears to be an increased interest and demand in how products are made, as well as what happens to them at the end of the cycle and I think we’ll see more demand for this in the future.”

A more holistic way of thinking is going to be important as Britain moves towards 2050.

Ms Britz said:

“We need more joined-up thinking. What does decarbonisation mean for businesses and jobs? Where are the new jobs coming from? “What is happening to the old sectors that are more exposed? We have to think about the benefits in a connected way – for instance, how reducing air pollution will improve people’s health and well-being.”

The good news is, that many businesses are leading the way, making strong commitments and rapid progress towards a net zero carbon future.

More and more businesses are committing to net zero carbon targets. The Water Industry has committed to net zero by 2030 as a sector, whilst John Lewis PartnershipCentrica and Tesco have committed to achieving net zero by 2050. Initiatives include greening the fleet (JLP), increasing renewable production (Centrica) and working across the supply chain (Tesco). Switching to renewable energy is playing an important part in increasing demand. Nestle entered into a Power Purchase Agreement that enabled the creation of a new windfarm in Scotland, whilst Bentley implemented a solar carport of 10,000 panels, which, added to the 21,000 panels on their factory roof means that all of their energy is now produced onsite or purchased renewables. More and more companies are collaborating to reduce their carbon emissions. Drax and National Grid Ventures have teamed up with other companies in the Humber to create a net zero carbon cluster that aims to enable the region to lead the way in delivering net zero carbon and develop hydrogen as a fuel. Capgemini has committed to helping their clients save 10 million tonnes of CO2 equivalent by 2030. 

The next 10 years are crucial in determining the world that we hand over to future generations. The time for talking is definitely over, businesses now need to take action. There are opportunities for businesses to save money, build great reputations and develop new products, services and business models at the same time as tackling climate change head on.

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How the UK has become a Major Global Player in the Solar Market

Solar Panels

Far from stagnating the solar industry has become a major player in the solar market despite the end of the feed-in tariff this year. The solar market has exploded in recent years growing from a tiny 12 megawatts of capacity in 2006 to over 13,000MW this year. What’s more, it is evident that there is still huge potential to be tapped.


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The International Energy Agency has said that solar both photovoltaic and thermal, could exceed fossil fuels, wind and hydro by 2050 to be the world’s largest energy source. A study conducted in the UK earlier on this year suggested that if 61% of south-facing roofs were covered with solar PV, all the energy needed for UK businesses could be taken care of as well as saving medium sized and larger enterprises at least £30,000 a year on their energy bills.

Both in the UK and internationally, the cost of solar panels and other kit relating to generating electricity from renewable energy sources has dropped significantly and indications are that further reductions in the prices for solar and battery storage technology are almost inevitable.

Now that subsidies have ended solar farms are one way to accomplish economies of scale and deliver substantial zero-carbon electricity to the grid and indeed the tag of ‘the UK’s biggest solar farm’ appears to change location constantly.

Cleeve Hill will be one of the UK’s largest solar farms covering a massive total of more than 1,000 acres of farmland near Faversham in Kent. 890 acres will be dedicated to solar panels, generating up to 350MWh of electricity, powering 91,000 homes and saving over 2.2 million tons of carbon emissions. The site will also host a significant energy storage facility to store power and release it to the grid at times of high demand.

Earlier this year a partnership was struck between Warrington Borough Council and Gridserve which is being hailed as one of the most technologically-advanced large-scale solar projects to date. The plan is to use bifacial solar panels, which generate energy from both sides, as well as trackers to follow the sun for the first time in the UK. The council are to acquire two new large solar farms that will supply the power used by the council for decades and gain income from providing grid services.

Initially electricity generated by the York solar farm will be sold on the open market although other local authorities have expressed an interest in buying it’s power. The two projects will generate millions of pounds in profits every year for 30 years.

Toddington Harper, chief executive and founder of Gridserve said:

 “The project will help generate sustainable income to deliver vital public services, meet climate targets with clean energy, and support a low carbon economy. We’ve completely rethought the solar model, looking in detail at how to maximise value at every step, and these projects will also pioneer the use of cutting-edge technologies that serve the grid”. 

Leader of Warrington Borough Council, Cllr Russ Bowden said: 

“The solar farms will secure our energy supply, give us control over our energy prices, contribute to reducing fuel poverty and generate an estimated operating surplus of £150 million over 30 years that can be invested back into the most important frontline services.  Councils have a major role to play in helping to meet carbon emission reduction targets. These two sites are a working model that we hope other local authorities will follow.”

In October this year Smith Brothers Contracting Ltd were appointed to deliver turnkey electrical engineering services at the planned Sunnica Energy Farm, a 500 MW solar-plus-storage project. This solar farm will cover land equivalent to 900 football pitches and will power 100,000 homes. Subject to approval construction should begin on the Cambridgeshire and Suffolk border in 2022.

It has also become apparent that solar farms developed by West Sussex County Council are generating more clean electricity than expected and are delivering greater than predicted environmental and financial benefits.

This news arrived during ‘Save Energy’ month, part of the county council’s climate pledge, a scheme created to encourage residents to make small changes in their daily lives that will collectively help combat climate change.

Tangmere solar farm, the first of its kind to be developed by the county council under its energy strategy, was switched on in 2015.

Generation figures for the 2018/19 financial year show that the 5MW solar farm produced 5,267 MWh of clean electricity and prevented the release of 1,843 tonnes of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. The county council said that his was enough additional clean electricity to power a further 108 homes and bring in £52,000 in extra income.

A spokesman added that the performance of the Westhampnett solar farm, opened on a former landfill site in October 2018, was also well on track. Westhampnett is the first publicly owned solar farm to be built with large on-site batteries to store surplus electricity which is fed into the grid when needed. The batteries help to balance supply and demand on the electricity grid, a service which provides additional income to the county council.

Steve Read, acting executive director for place services (leading public sector provider of integrated environmental assessment, planning, design and management services) said:

 “We aim to lead by example by generating clean energy across our estate and improving the energy efficiency of our own buildings. We already generate more renewable electricity than we use in carrying out our core county council functions, excluding schools and street lighting, and expect to increase this generation capacity further as more projects come on stream in the years ahead.”

As well as the council’s large solar farms it is coming to the end of an extensive programme to install solar panels at more than 80 schools, which will reduce overall annual carbon emissions by 1,300 tonnes and, on average, save £2,000 off each school’s annual energy bill.

Further to this the county council plans to develop other large energy projects to support renewable energy in the county which includes a large battery storage facility on a former waste site at Halewick lane in Sompting.

If the UK is to meet the EU renewable energy targets by 2020 it will need to increase its dependence on solar power which will eventually lead to greater investment and local green jobs. Most importantly it will reduce the UK’s dependence on overseas fossil fuel imports. As this valuable sector grows solar energy will help businesses to manage their electricity costs while reducing their carbon emissions and providing them with a choice about where power can be obtained.

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Solar Fitted Cornish Homes in Milestone Trial to Supply Clean Power to the Grid

Cornish Solar Panels

In a pioneering move, hundreds of homes and businesses in Cornwall have begun selling electricity to their local energy network and the National energy system.

National Grid Electricity System operator (ESO) and Western Power Distribution have come together to trial a world first scheme, enabling homes and businesses in Cornwall to sell green energy back to the grid through Centrica’s Cornish Local Energy Market. One hundred homes and 150 businesses equipped with solar panels and batteries have been linked together to act as a virtual, mini power plant for the local energy network and National Grid ESO.

Old-style grids are not designed to move electricity from thousands of small power plants over short distances. Instead, electricity continues to be fed over long distances to central points in the grid, then fed out again.

Curious anomalies can be a consequence of this. Many wind farms around the country, have been forced to reduce their power output because of an excess of energy on the grid due to strong winds and low demand at the same time as major energy consumers including nearby factories have no way of accessing that extra electricity.

The rise of renewable energy and the inability of existing power grids to move energy around efficiently has created the need for schemes like the Cornwall Local Energy Market.

Being able to store and move electricity at a far more local level can help smooth out supply and demand, and address many of the problems caused by the intermittent nature of renewable electricity generation.

It is the first time that traditional energy users such as homes, hotels and businesses have operated as suppliers in a microcosm of a full energy system.

Pieter-Jan Mermans, a director at Centrica Business Solutions, described the trial as “a milestone moment for the energy network” after years of research.

He said:

“Improving grid flexibility benefits everyone from generators to consumers, and these trials represent a major step forward. We are hugely grateful to the householders and businesses across Cornwall who have embraced this trial with open arms.”

The homes that are taking part in this trial alongside 150 local businesses are prepared to adjust how much energy they use depending on the balance of energy supply and demand on the grid. If wind and solar power output drops the companies can choose to use less electricity in exchange for a payment from National Grid, or if the local grid has more electricity than it needs the companies can ramp up their energy demand. During sunny times when homes generate more than enough electricity from solar panels, they can store the power to use later, or supply the energy system with clean extra power in return for payment.

By storing energy, homes and businesses can be more flexible in their energy use, reducing it when demand is high in return for payment and increasing it when excess supply is available. This helps National Grid ESO to balance the UK’s energy network.

National Grid is already offering to pay firms that own utility-scale batteries to provide a similar service but the difference here is that this trial is the first time that companies can take part in the same ‘Local Energy Market’ as the network operator. This market was designed by energy giant Centrica and based on the same system used to balance energy markets across Europe. The energy companies are of the opinion that the trial could help build a nationwide chain of flexible smart grids built around clean energy.

Colm Murphy, an Electricity Market Change Development Manager at National Grid, said:

“Exploring the provision of flexibility through a local energy market is a first for us. The potential is really exciting as we look to unlock more flexible energy resources in the market, and greater cost benefits to consumers.”

One local Cornish business, The Cornish Ice Company, is using its industrial freezers to act as a battery for the grid. The company can easily cut electricity to its freezers for short periods without affecting temperatures, meaning it can offer spare electricity to either the local grid or the national system operator.

Colm Murphy, also said:

“As we move towards our 2025 ambition of being able to operate the British electricity system carbon free, we are seeing more renewable generation come online, such as wind and solar which requires increased flexibility to balance the grid. Initiatives such as the Cornwall scheme help us deliver secure, sustainable and affordable electricity – softening peaks in demand and filling in the troughs, especially at times when more power is available. And it’s cleaner too. Even though we’re in the early stages of the trial, we’re looking forward to evaluating the results.”

This Cornish project is just part of National Grid ESOs push to engage in more intelligent use of energy and technology. Demand Side response (DSR) is another example of their engagement which helps businesses increase, decrease or shift their electricity use to help balance the electricity system.  Financial incentives are given to businesses to encourage them to manage their energy more flexibly which at the same time also helps them to reduce their carbon footprint and plays a part in helping the UK transition to a low carbon energy system.

The Cornwall trial is set to lead the way to what could become a nationwide network of flexible smart grids providing clean energy to help Britain reach its target to become a carbon net zero economy by 2050.

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UK Needs to Take Urgent Action to Achieve its Net Zero Emissions Target by 2050

smoking exhaust

RenewableUK has issued a warning that the UK is considerably off track in meeting the level of onshore wind required to attain the legally binding 2050 net zero emissions target. A new study from the industry body has shown that unless there is a change in policy, onshore wind capacity is expected to fall nearly 40% short of the target by 2030.

The power produced currently by just over 13.5 gigawatts (GW) of onshore wind installed across the UK avoids over 14 million tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions every year. The UK government has been advised by the Committee on Climate Change that onshore wind capacity needs to grow by at least 1GW a year to reach the net zero emissions target of 35GW by 2035. In order to achieve this the UK would require approximately 29GW to be installed by 2030.

However, the current trend shows that capacity will grow to only 17.8GW by 2030 according to a new study by RenewableUK’s Project Intelligence team.  Reaching this level depends on 4.5GW of new onshore wind farms being built without government- backed contracts for new renewable power. In place of this, new capacity will have to rely on Power Purchase Agreements (PPAs) with corporates or the merchant power price. Just under 1GW (740 megawatts) will be repowered with older turbines being replaced by new modern turbines.

Earlier this year the governments Science and Technology Committee published a report into the government’s commitment to reach net zero carbon emissions by 2050.

Professor Nilay Shah FREng, Director of the Centre for Process Systems Engineering at Imperial College London and a Fellow of the Royal Academy of Engineering, said:

“The Science & Technology Committee is right that ‎net zero is going to require a transformation of our energy, transport, industrial and commercial systems. We shall have to pursue a twin track of deep reductions in emissions together with the deployment of greenhouse gas removal systems. Both of these require innovative business models and policies, and will be needed globally, indicating an opportunity for the UK to be at the forefront of these developments.”

RenewableUK’s analysis says that a lower growth scenario would see onshore wind capacity only growing by 1GW to just 14.5GW by 2030 with the rate of new wind farm installations being outmatched by the withdrawal of older projects.

The higher scenario anticipates serious growth in onshore wind with capacity growing to 24.4GW. To reach this level supportive policies would be required from the government to include, allowing onshore wind to compete for new Contracts for Difference and setting planning guidance for repowering and enabling use of the most up-to-date turbines.

The Contracts for Difference (CfD) scheme is the government’s main mechanism for supporting low-carbon electricity generation. Renewable generators located in the UK that meet the eligibility requirements can apply for a CfD by submitting what is a form of ‘sealed bid’.

Professor Roger Kemp FREng, Lancaster University, said earlier in the year:

“Achieving ‘net-zero’ carbon emissions, without recourse to questionable ‘offsetting’ arrangements, will require a dramatically different approach to energy use. Many of the technologies we take for granted, such as gas central heating or petrol-driven cars, will have to be consigned to museums. Electricity will have to be generated exclusively by zero-carbon sources, mainly renewables, 24/7 all year, not just on windy days in summer.

“Many of these technologies, including cars, buses and lorries or central heating boilers, have life-cycles of up to 20 years from the time the order is placed until the product has been scrapped. ‘Net-zero’ by 2050 means that alternatives must be “this is way things are done” by 2030 which gives a very short timescale to change.

“There is no evidence that governments over the last few years have recognised the challenge a ‘net-zero’ target represents. Policies on fracking, reduced subsidies for renewables and opposition to onshore wind farms are all moving in the wrong direction.”

In 2017 installations of new onshore wind turbines reached a peak of nearly 2.7GW before plummeting by 80% in 2018 to the smallest number of new installations since 2011. This was mostly due to policy changes brought in by the government after the 2015 election which included the cessation of Contracts for Difference auctions to onshore winds.

Commenting on the new figures, RenewableUK’s Head of Policy and Regulation, Rebecca Williams said:

“We are on the eve of what should be the greenest election the UK has ever seen. Public demand for action to tackle climate change has never been higher and the next Government will have to deliver ambitious, credible plans that put us on track to meet our net zero emissions target.

 “Onshore wind is the single largest renewable power source in the UK, and you can’t be credible on net zero unless you’re serious about onshore wind. But without new policies, we won’t get anywhere near the levels needed for net zero. Growing our onshore wind capacity in line with the CCC’s recommendation will bring down consumer bills, and secure new investment and jobs in communities across the UK”.

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11,000 Scientists Issue Grim Warning About Effects of Climate Change

burning forest

More than 11,000 scientists in 153 countries have declared a climate emergency. They have issued a grim warning that unless major changes are made to the way that we live the world’s people will face untold suffering due to the climate crisis. Scientists say that there is no time to lose:

Their report published in Bioscience; a peer-reviewed scientific journal says:

“We declare clearly and unequivocally that planet Earth is facing a climate emergency. To secure a sustainable future, we must change how we live. This entails major transformations in the ways our global society functions and interacts with natural ecosystems. The climate crisis has arrived and is accelerating faster than most scientists expected. It is more severe than anticipated, threatening natural ecosystems and the fate of humanity.”

The group says that as scientists, they have a “moral obligation to tell it like it is” andto “clearly warn humanity of any catastrophic threat.”

The report is based on climate science that was first established in 1979 at the first World Climate Conference held in Geneva. Numerous global bodies have agreed that urgent action is required for decades but greenhouses gases have continued to rise.

William Ripple, professor of ecology at Oregon State University, author of the report says:

“Despite 40 years of major global negotiations, we have continued to conduct business as usual and have failed to address this crisis,”

Phoebe Barnard, one of the lead authors of the report and the chief science and policy officer at the Conservation Biology Institute, a non-profit science group, told CNN the report makes it clear “there’s no more wiggle room” for policymakers.

This is not the first time that thousands of academics have got together to urge people to act on climate change. Back in 2017 more than 16,000 scientists published a letter warning that “human beings and the natural world are on a collision course.”

Scientists have specified a number of urgent changes that need to be made, including ending population growth, leaving fossil fuels in the ground, halting forest destruction and cutting meat eating. Professor William Ripple said that the increase in extreme weather he was seeing led him to initiate the report. The main aim of the warning was to detail a full range of “vital sign” indicators of the causes and effects of climate breakdown rather than only considering carbon emissions and surface temperature rise.

Co-author of the report, Thomas Newsome, of the University of Sydney says:

“A broader set of indicators should be monitored, including human population growth, meat consumption, tree-cover loss, energy consumption, fossil-fuel subsidies and annual economic losses to extreme weather events.”

The group selected other “profoundly troubling signs from human activities” such as booming air travel and world GDP growth. They believe that the climate crisis is “closely linked to excessive consumption of the wealthy lifestyle.”

Human activities such as these have led to especially alarming trends of increasing land and ocean temperatures, rising sea levels and extreme weather events.

Professor Ripple says:

“Global surface temperature, ocean heat content, extreme weather and its costs, sea level, ocean acidity and land area are all rising. Ice is rapidly disappearing as shown by declining trends in minimum summer Arctic sea ice, Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets, and glacier thickness. All of these rapid changes highlight the urgent need for action.”

“Especially worrisome are potential irreversible climate tipping points. These climate chain reactions could cause significant disruptions to ecosystems, society, and economies, potentially making large areas of Earth uninhabitable.”

“We urge widespread use of the vital signs to allow policymakers and the public to understand the magnitude of the crisis, realign priorities and track progress.”

On the positive side birth rates are declining and there is a rise in renewable energy use though most indicators suggest humans are rapidly heading in the wrong direction.

Professor Ripple says:

“While things are bad, all is not hopeless. We can take steps to address the climate emergency.”

Scientists say they want the public to “understand the magnitude of this crisis, track progress, and realign priorities for alleviating climate change”.

In order to achieve this, major changes in the ways that our global society functions and interacts with natural ecosystems need to be made.

There are 6 key objectives that the report focuses on: replacing fossil fuels; cutting pollutants like methane and soot; restoring and protecting ecosystems; eating less meat; converting the economy to one that is carbon-free and stabilising population growth.

Despite the gloomy vision of the future the authors of the report say that there is room for optimism.

The report says:

“We are encouraged by a recent surge of concern. Governmental bodies are making climate emergency declarations. Schoolchildren are striking. Ecocide lawsuits are proceeding in the courts. Grassroots citizen movements are demanding change, and many countries, states and provinces, cities, and businesses are responding. Such swift action is our best hope to sustain life on planet Earth, our only home.”

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What Trends are Dominating the Renewable Energy Market in the Final Months of 2019?

Wind Sea Winter

Renewable energy is becoming a mainstream energy form and a preferred source driven by several market trends. The 3 key elements bringing this about and allowing solar and wind to compete with the more conventional sources on an equal footing are parity, integration and technology. Grid parity happens when solar and wind can generate power at a cost and performance level equal to or less than electricity generated from conventional methods. Solar and wind have reached parity in many regions and their integration can help solve grid problems. At the same time new technologies continue to hone their competitive edge.

As solar and wind power come closer to meeting three key energy consumer priorities in cost-effectiveness, decarbonization, and reliability they will play an increasing role in creating smart renewable cities.

Modular, consumer-driven and evenly distributed power generation is replacing the traditional model of large top-down and centrally distributed power generation. Renewables are no longer thought to be difficult to integrate into the grid. Conversely, they are now helping to strengthen grid reliability and resilience. The application of blockchain, AI and other automation technologies make renewables self-optimising, increasing their effectiveness.

The United States is expected to rely on non-hydro renewables more and more as we enter the final months of 2019, namely onshore wind and utility-scale solar. These sources are estimated to account for 10% of it’s total electricity in 2019. Although this may not seem like much it’s a huge improvement on almost nothing at the beginning of the century. This is only going to get better in the future.

It is looking likely that onshore wind and utility-scale solar will provide at least 30% of America’s total electricity by 2030 as a result of falling costs, improving technology and supportive state policies. Though in fact it’s very possible that all renewable sources including hydroelectricity, small scale solar and others could generate nearly half of the nation’s electricity by that date.

However, reaching this point requires some help from two emerging technologies primarily energy storage and offshore wind.

It is simple to understand the promise of energy storage. Owners of wind farms and solar farms or a rooftop solar array could rely on batteries to level out the daily or weekly generation profile of their assets. For example, batteries could allow a solar asset to deliver electricity at night and motivate larger solar farms to store overflow energy captured during the day for use when required. However Residential and grid-scale energy storage products face a familiar obstacle with cost.

Debating the ins and outs of energy storage costs can be difficult as the economics very much depend on the application whether small-scale versus utility scale or short duration versus long duration. You must also take into consideration the specific materials used in the device. Although energy storage only makes good financial sense for a limited number of applications today indications are that the technology is beginning to find ways into the crowded energy market.

Tesla (NASDAQ:TSLA) is currently manufacturing lithium-ion batteries for both small and large scale customers. In the third quarter of 2019, Tesla deployed a record 477 megawatt-hours of storage across all customer types, representing year-over-year growth of 99%. Today, most of the company’s business comes from grid-scale projects which may likely receive a big boost soon.

In the fourth quarter of 2019, Tesla will begin distributing the Megapack which is a 3 megawatt-hour battery for both utility and industrial customers. Not only is the size important but so, too, is the ability to manufacture it as a single unit. This will reduce the per-unit costs as well as having the potential to add important growth to the company’s energy storage business in 2020.

Meanwhile, energy storage is beginning to make financial sense for homeowners too, in an increasingly competitive residential market. Enphase Energy (NASDAQ: ENPH) is getting ready to launch its third-generation battery system which offers configurations of 3.3 kilowatt-hours and 10 kilowatt-hours. The idea behind the lithium-ion based system is for it be coupled with rooftop solar arrays and include an inverter which is this company’s speciality, communications, and management software. The smaller unit is modular, allowing for systems to scale with a customer’s needs. 

Installing a solar storage solution like the Enphase battery allows consumers to store solar power at home for them to use later when electricity is more expensive.

As with other energy storage products, the Enphase AC battery is sized for day-to-day use in the owners home, and is usually installed alongside a home solar panel system. Solar energy is stored at home in the Enphase battery pack instead of sending it back into the electric grid. Later, electricity stored in the homeowners Enphase home battery can be used instead of having to buy it from the homeowner’s utility.

Enphase Energy has high hopes for Encharge. The company estimates that soon its energy storage initiative will be able to increase the revenue per home from $2,000 today to over $10,000. Enphase thinks that as new products are rolled out, it will be able to tap into the entire global residential battery market by 2021. This is expected to be a 3,000 megawatt-hour opportunity that year with the potential for hypergrowth.

The almost non-existent offshore wind power industry in the United States finally appears to be picking up momentum after suffering several false starts and delays over the years. It currently has only 30 megawatts of offshore wind power operating despite the country boasting a pipeline of about 25,000 megawatts which could technically support over 10 times that amount.

New York state wants to have 9,000 megawatts of offshore wind operating by 2035 and has recently closed the deal on two new projects totalling 1,696 megawatts. Both Empire Wind from Equinor (NYSE:EQNR) and Sunrise Wind from a company of the same name are expected to come online in 2024. They will be watched closely by investors.

Equinor, formerly known as Statoil, has an ambitious long-term strategy that relies heavily on managing its offshore oil production expertise to adapt to offshore wind projects. It has got off to a great start, the company and a partner recently winning an auction to build a 3,600-megawatt project off the coast of the UK increasing its total offshore wind portfolio to 5,550 megawatts of owned and shared capacity.

The virtually untapped coastal waters of the United States provide an attractive and enormous growth opportunity for Equinor, especially in the Atlantic. It is taking advantage of this market by positioning itself as an early adopter in order to reap the greatest rewards. Having said that there is still a long way to go.

Empire Wind’s contract specifies electricity at just under $84 per megawatt-hour double the price of inshore wind in the United States. The cost of offshore wind power is expected to continue to fall. Bloomberg New Energy Finance estimates the global average price fell 32% since 2018 but the pace of the decline might determine how the potentially vast U.S market develops.

Solar and wind are already more efficient and cost-effective than conventional sources, and evolving technologies will continue to improve their price and performance. Combining the economic benefits with a low environmental impact, we can expect to see renewables continue to move from being an acceptable energy source to a much preferred one.

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Can Wind Power Provide More Electricity than the World Needs?

Onshore Wind

The International Energy Agency (IEA) predicts that power supplies from turbines are set to be the next great energy revolution.

Although wind power only accounts for 0.3% of the world’s energy currently it is thought that as costs fall and green policies rise that it will grow into a trillion-dollar industry.

A major industry report from the IEA has claimed that ultimately wind power will have the potential to provide enough clean electricity for every person on earth 18 times over. A comprehensive study of the world’s coastlines has found that offshore windfarms alone could provide more electricity than the world needs even if they are only built in windy regions in shallow waters near the shore. Researchers at the IEA believe that offshore windfarms could become a cornerstone of the world’s power supply.

New wind turbine technology and increasing reductions in setup and operating costs are opening up the potential of this green energy source.

The growth of global offshore wind capacity is accelerating at great speed. The IEA claims that this capacity could increase 15-fold and attract $1 trillion (800bn) of cumulative investment by as soon as 2040. The IEA puts this boom down to plummeting costs in installations, supportive government policies and remarkable technological progress elements of which include larger turbines almost as high as the Eiffel Tower and floating foundations.

The IEA says that European countries including the UK have led the rapid pace of this change with the global offshore wind market growing nearly 30 per cent per year between 2010 and 2018.

There are currently 150 new offshore wind projects in development around the world with China adding more capacity than any other country in 2018.

The IEA report shows that if windfarms were built across all useable sites which are no further than 60km (37 miles) off the coast, and where coastal waters are no deeper than 60 metres, they could generate 36,000 terawatt hours of renewable electricity a year. The IEA concludes that this would easily meet the current global demand for electricity of 23,000 terawatt hours.

The IEA report says:

“Today’s offshore wind market doesn’t even come close to tapping the full potential. With high-quality resources available in most major markets, offshore wind has the potential to generate more than 420,000 terawatt hours per year worldwide. This is more than 18 times global electricity demand today.”

The IEA believe that much work must be done to bring a clean energy revolution to fruition.

It is crucial that fossil fuels are replaced with renewables in order to meet the globally agreed goal of limiting the average temperature rise to below 2 degrees Celsius this century.

According to the IEA, further increasing the use of offshore wind farms could cut around 5–7 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions from the global power industry. They have said that because global supplies of renewable electricity are growing faster than expected that these supplies could expand by 50% in the next 5 years driven by a revival in solar energy. The IEA estimates that the next generation of floating turbines that can operate further from the shore could generate enough energy to meet the world’s total electricity demand 11 times over in 2040.

Dr Fatih Birol, Executive Director at the IEA said:

“In the past decade, two major areas of technological innovation have been game-changers in the energy system by substantially driving down costs: the shale revolution and the rise of solar photovoltaics. Offshore wind has the potential to join their ranks in terms of steep cost reduction.”

More than $4 billion was spent last year building a 1-gigawatt offshore wind project which included the transmission of the power to the shore.

Dr Fatih Birol said:

 “More and more of that potential is coming within reach, but much work remains to be done by governments and industry for it to become a mainstay of clean energy transitions.”

Both the growing awareness of the climate crisis and political responses to environmental concerns are also contributing to growth in the industry. Wind could become Europe’s main source of energy in just 20 years.

It is likely that the growth of offshore wind generation in China who are taking the lead from the UK will be even more rapid with its offshore wind capacity forecast to grow from 4 gigawatts to 110 gigawatts by 2040 or even 170 gigawatts if China takes on tougher climate targets.

Renewable energy is set to become competitive with new coal-fired capacity by around 2030. The IEA however, cautioned that big investments into onshore grid infrastructure and more political action would be required to ensure wind’s uptake.

The technology is particularly attractive in China, where great efforts are being made to reduce air pollution. Offshore wind farms can also be built near many of the country’s major population centres.

The IEA said one of the most important technological advancements in offshore wind is the development of floating turbines that can be deployed further out at sea. 

Further to this the IEA said:

“In theory, floating turbines could enable offshore wind to meet the entire electricity demand of several key electricity markets several times over, including Europe, the United States and Japan.”

Indications are that offshore wind will soon beat new natural gas capacity in Europe on cost and be on a par with solar photovoltaics and onshore wind.

European offshore wind capacity could be dramatically higher if there was a more ambitious vision in which government policies were to drive an increase in demand for clean hydrogen produced by offshore wind.

This would bring about a scenario where electricity generated by wind turbines could be used to split water molecules into hydrogen and oxygen atoms, with the hydrogen then being stored and ultimately blended with normal gas supplies to heat houses or fuel vehicles. It could also be recycled to generate more clean electricity.

Huge amounts of electricity are used in the process of making hydrogen from water, but plentiful, inexpensive offshore wind power could help produce a low-cost, zero-carbon alternative to gas instead of using fossil fuel gas for heating and in heavy industry.

Energy companies are already planning to use the electricity generated by giant offshore windfarms in the North Sea to turn seawater into hydrogen on a floating ‘green hydrogen’ project backed by the UK government. This clean-burning gas could be pumped back to shore to heat millions of homes by the 2030s. This is an important step as the UK has committed to reaching net zero emissions by 2050.

Dr Fatih Birol said:

“Offshore wind provides a huge new business portfolio for major engineering firms and established oil and gas companies which have a strong offshore production experience. Our analysis shows that 40% of the work in offshore wind construction and maintenance has synergies with oil and gas practises.”

The first offshore turbines were installed in 1991 in Denmark, which last year produced 15 per cent of its electricity from offshore wind.

Today, the UK is the country with the biggest wind capacity, but the industry is growing, especially in the US and in Asian countries including Japan and Taiwan.

There could be major economic benefits for the UK as the burgeoning offshore wind sector overlaps with the UK’s declining oil and gas industry.

Notably, even though green transition is increasingly taking over the global political agenda, there is a growing disconnect between climate ambitions and real-life emissions with energy related CO2 emissions reaching a historic high last year

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How Will the UK Adapt to Meet its Renewable Energy Targets?


As record renewable energy production progresses rapidly in the UK, a sustainable green future looks closer than it ever has done.

Renewable energy in UK has provided more electricity to homes and business than fossil fuels during the third quarter of 2019.

Energy figures released by the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) produced earlier on this year showed that the UK’s production of electricity in 2018 was up 2.9% on 2017, driven by growth in oil, wind, solar, bioenergy, and waste.

Despite coal reaching a record low and declining by 25% and natural gas falling by 3.8% overall fossil fuel production increased. 2018 saw coal being responsible for just 1% of the UK’s total energy generation resulting in the county’s coal-fired power stations being completely unused for 12 days which was a record.

The Centre for Alternative Technology (CAT) has claimed that the UK has the ability to generate 100% of it’s energy supply from clean sources or carbon-neutral back-ups.

As the UK becomes increasingly more reliant on renewables it has become important for energy managers to look at how they can take on new technologies to better manage and monitor volatile energy generation sites.

As renewables take on a greater share of the country’s energy consumption the UK is on course to meet its renewable targets of 30% renewable generation by 2020. However, converting to this form of power supply is not without difficulties.

To give you an idea of the overall picture, UK emissions fell by 9.1 million tonnes, a year on year 2.4% decrease which was due to an increase in renewable electricity sources. Renewables made up 33% of electricity in 2018 which was up from 29.2% in 2017. Despite this fossil fuels still make up 79.4% of the overall energy supply. The pace of change needs to be accelerated.

Even now, cost is still one of the main barriers to the adoption of renewable energy generation resources. Developed countries like the UK have a mature fossil-fuel infrastructure that has been in existence for over a hundred years. Making the change to a renewable alternative can in many cases be more expensive and involve a much higher initial investment.

The same applies to developing countries where the cost of renewable technology is even more prohibitive.

The UK’s present energy infrastructure was designed to run on fossil fuels is being forced to adapt. The grid is now distributing energy generated from both fossil-fuel and renewable sources.

Recently smart grids which use control and communication in a specific way to counteract the need for costly expansion of existing cable and wire infrastructures have expanded.

Billions of pounds will be spent on Britain’s energy network in the next few decades. Some of this will be required to keep the existing system going and to replace ageing equipment while the creation of a smart grid   will also need investment in new technology.

Notably, this requirement has encouraged a pledge by the UK’s leading electricity network operators, including SSE Networks and UKPower Networks. This pledge promises to deliver £17 billion of smart grid infrastructure by 2050.

A key differentiator of smart grids is the integration of renewable energy generation resources. This technology is essential to provide easy integration and reliable service to consumers. A smart grid system is an entirely self-sufficient electricity network system using digital automation technology for monitoring, control and analysis within the supply chain. It improves the communication, automation, and connectivity of the various components of the power network which allows as an example for bulk transmission of power gathered from multiple generation plants.

Technology investments need to be made as operators cannot accurately predict output from renewable sources because unlike fossil fuels, they do not generate energy at a pre-determined level.

The way that wind turbines work illustrates this clearly. Although an operator can estimate from historical data how often the windfarm will generate power consistently it is virtually impossible to make accurate predictions as energy output from a turbine can drop without warning and there is no proven method to precisely determine when output will improve.

The variability of renewable energy sources can affect power supplies in the reverse way by producing surplus energy. If the wind speed was to dramatically increase and the grid was not prepared it may not be able to handle the sudden surge in power from the windfarm which could lead to a power outage.

Reserve power flow, or back feeding, is one method of managing this excess energy.

Back feeding is flow of electrical energy in the reverse direction from its normal flow. For example, back feeding may occur when electrical power is injected into the local power grid from a source other than a utility company generator.

Back feeding isn’t exclusively for renewable sources and occurs regularly on small-scale power grids usually during the middle of the day as residential energy demand is low during this period meaning that some of the generated electricity can be fed back to a transformer through the network.

Because most power generation came from large-scale fossil-fuel sources, which were located on the main network, the power would flow predictably onto smaller systems in the past.

With the number of renewable energy sites increasing as well as microgeneration sites energy volatility is increasing which inevitably leads to more occurrences of back feeding as well as creating a new requirement for energy storage.

More accurate forecasting is needed so that operators can manage supply and demand. Though there is new technology that is already beginning to improve the exactness of predictions by using advanced computer models it is recommended that this is used in combination with real-time monitoring. 

Smart grid control software allows operators to manage grid behaviour in real-time which means that the operator can react appropriately should the site begin to generate more or less power than expected.

Obviously, this real-time insight doesn’t change the volatility of renewable generation, but the software can immediately alert an operator when wind speeds increase. By comparing this data with information from the network the software can provide a warning that a surplus of energy is going to occur, and back feeding is required.

Back feeding isn’t always the answer, in some cases the excess energy must be stored. Research by market analyst Aurora Energy Research suggests that in order for the UK to meet its renewable energy targets, an additional 13GW of energy storage will be required to successfully balance the grid.

This presents another big challenge related to the cost of implementation as with other forms of energy technology. Traditionally aside from the water storing methods of hydro-electric plants, electricity grids have little if any method of storing excess power. In fact, Aurora Energy Research’s paper states that deploying energy storage on Britain’s network will require a £6 billion investment.

Being able to store energy plays an important part in creating a flexible grid. If there is more power generated than is required, the excess energy needs to be stored safely to avoid any wastage. If the demand is greater than the energy available, energy storage allows storage facilities to discharge the stored energy back to the grid.

With increasing reliance on renewables, energy storage facilities will be essential buffers for excess power. While there are copious research projects dedicated to the development of energy storage methods, including compressed air, thermal storage and battery storage, these technologies are still largely in their infancy.

Across the continent, there are several successful examples of using batteries to store excess renewable energy. This includes a BMW commissioned battery storage farm in Leipzig, Germany, which is housed on the grounds of its own wind generation site. The site operates using 700 second-life electric vehicle batteries, which are used to house excess wind power before it is fed back into the wider grid.

Without knowledge of when, where, and how much energy is required on the grid, however, battery storage is redundant.

Feeding this energy back to the network requires real-time insight into the state of the gird. Large scale installations, like BMW’s facility in Germany, will use intelligent software to constantly monitor and record demand for power and therefore supply appropriately.

Again, this requires investment from the facility itself but is essential for the creation of a truly smart energy grid.

Transitioning from a traditional energy network to a fully functioning smart grid is incredibly complex. Britain’s ageing infrastructure means that costs maintaining and repairing these facilities are essential, but investments in new technology cannot be overlooked.

A solution to a slow transition could be public sector investment. Governments could provide long-term capital which would balance the low rate of returns renewable projects currently yield.

It is possible that the model used in oil and gas of creating power companies via the public sector and then privatizing them could be repeated in renewable energy.

However, to achieve that with renewable energies, governments must understand that they have a greater value than short-term financial returns.

Renewable energy is growing swiftly but hydrocarbon fossil fuels continue to dominate the global energy mix.

Britain may be capable of generating 100% of its energy supply from clean sources, but until the nation has adopted technologies to efficiently manage, store and distribute this energy, this goal will not come to fruition.