The energy storage sector is set to boom as growth in renewables flatlines

 
Courtney Goldsmith
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Investment into energy storage is growing (Source: Getty)

The energy storage sector is expanding rapidly as growth in independent renewables flatlines with UK battery capacity poised to grow up to 100 times by 2020, a new report suggests.

On average, 275 independent renewable projects have completed each quarter since 2013. However, in the wake of deep subsidy cuts, just 38 were completed from October to December 2016 and from January to March 2017 the figure fell to 21, according to renewables firm SmartestEnergy's latest energy entrepreneurs report.

As the market remains challenging for renewables, energy entrepreneurs are beginning to move outside the traditional supply sector towards energy storage, which will allow the UK's energy system to accommodate growing amounts of renewables, helping to balance supply and demand.

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"Independent developers have won four fifths of battery contracts in Capacity Market auctions, which ensure there is enough electricity to meet peak winter demand. They secured 407 megawatts while just 105 megawatts went to projects from Big Six utilities, and the majority was secured by independents with renewable projects. Independents have also won more than half the battery contracts to provide Enhanced Frequency Response (EFR) to stabilise the grid, 110 megawatts out of 201 megawatts," the report said.

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In 2016 there were just 20 megawatts of commercial batteries in operation, but 31 projects have now won long-term contracts in the capacity and EFR markets to provide 578 megawatts of capacity in 2020.

All together, 153 projects with a combined capacity of 2.3 gigawatts have announced plans for deployment over the next four years, which would cause UK battery capacity increase by more than 100 times.

“Energy entrepreneurs are at the forefront as we transition to a new energy system. Independent developers still have renewable project pipelines and are looking at innovative ways to build without subsidy. They are now also driving forward the battery revolution," said Iain Robertson, vice president of renewables at SmartestEnergy.

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