Four reasons why the time is right to install battery energy storage

Dan Connor,  Head of Optimisation & Battery at Centrica Business Solutions, explains why now is the perfect time for public sector organisations to install battery energy storage as a cost effective route to net zero.

With resources and budgets tightly stretched, it’s harder than ever for public sector organisations to deliver on their sustainability goals, while also minimising energy costs and securing power resilience for essential services.

 But battery storage can provide a real win-win sustainable energy opportunity. This is especially attractive for organisations who have already exhausted the obvious energy efficiency options and are ready to take things to the next stage. In fact, there’s never been a better time to exploit the benefits of batteries

Battery energy storage is critical to supporting the transition to net-zero. It is a clean, green and cost-effective method – enabling greater penetration of variable renewables by maintaining grid stability.

With rapid growth in wind and solar output, a shortfall of energy storage, sharply falling battery costs and the growing value of revenues from flexibility markets – battery storage is a sound investment. Furthermore, projects can be de-risked with some offtake structures giving a degree of revenue certainty to mitigate downside.

For cash strapped public bodies, it’s even possible to deliver integrated onsite generation and battery storage schemes with zero capital expenditure. The financial returns are so strong and predictable that projects can be funded  via a guaranteed performance-based operating cost model – removing risk, time and financial pressures.

Combining on-site solar with battery storage is a cost-effective way to power both your estate and electric vehicles . Solar can also help power cost effective heat pump installations – helping you to decarbonise your power, transport and heating systems.

There  is now a window of opportunity that makes battery storage a safe, sustainable investment that accelerates progress towards a net zero energy system.

4  reasons why public bodies should consider battery storage

1. Make progress towards net zero targets

Batteries are pivotal in supporting the transition to a net zero energy grid while providing grid stability. Batteries can instantly be switched on/off and quickly change the power output as required. This makes battery storage solutions a source of unique flexibility for providing grid support services and enabling more wind and solar power to be safely integrated into the power network, thus contributing towards further decarbonisation of the electricity grid.

By using battery storage alongside solar you can dramatically increase your utilisation of available solar to maximise your usage of renewable power and reduce dependence on higher carbon  grid supplied electricity.

2. Generate revenue

Battery flexibility can be monetised via commercialising battery storage in energy and grid support markets. The super-fast response time, high flexibility and capability of generating and consuming electricity means that you can fully exploit faster response revenue stream opportunities across ancillary services, wholesale and balancing markets, while mitigating risk.

We are pioneering the use of batteries within virtual power plants, where we can combine a mixed portfolio of assets, including slow responding loads and battery storage from multiple sites,  to create a fast and agile portfolio – thus maximising revenues from batteries.

A trio of new UK frequency response products  are increasing Demand Side Response (DSRincome opportunities for fast-acting energy assets, such as batteries. Following the launch of the new Dynamic Containment frequency response market in September 2020, National Grid Electricity System Operator (ESO) will introduce  Dynamic Moderation and Dynamic Regulation services next year.

The ESO’s Dynamic Containment product offers lucrative new opportunities for batteries and aggregated assets that can react in 1 second to meet critical grid balancing needs. The two additional new frequency response markets are expected to go live from April 2022

Centrica Business Solutions are major participants in Dynamic Containment – deploying flexibility from our own 49MW Roosecote battery storage facility to support grid stability.

3.   Increase energy resilience and protect essential services

Batteries provide the most environmentally friendly standby power solution – helping you to secure your power supply while also improving sustainability.  As the risk of energy supply disruption grows, organisations must find dependable solutions to avoid damage and disruption to essential public services.

The split-second response time of batteries means that they can provide ultra-fast, zero  emission uninterruptable power supply (UPS) at the first sign of any brownout or blackout. This is a cost effective method of ensuring a continuous and reliable sustainable power supply – providing a faster, much greener alternative to traditional standby systems, such as diesel generators. 

You can also use batteries to provide extra protection for mission critical operations, such as data centres, transport systems, emergency response and hospitals.  In this way they can bolster the resilience by adding an extra layer of protection to existing emergency generators and UPS systems.

4. Minimise energy costs

Lithium-ion battery prices have fallen by 89% over the last 10 years – making energy storage a viable cost reduction solution.  Energy prices are rising fast, but you can reduce your spend by using stored power at peak times when costs are highest to make big financial savings. Solar and battery storage provide the perfect pairing, with batteries helping to make significant improvements in your solar utilisation and the financial performance of your generator.  This leads to a faster investment payback for  both technologies.

Moving forward with battery storage

To maximise value from your battery storage assets, it’s important to find an expert partner who is an optimisation specialist with a proven track record in generating guaranteed revenue returns. Seek out support from organisations who can help you unlock the full range of market opportunities, while reducing risk.

Gateshead Council

Gateshead Council is improving energy resilience and generating  revenue  from one of the UK’s largest commercial battery storage schemes, supplied by Centrica Business Solutions.

The 3MW/3.33MWh system ensures that the Gateshead District Energy Centre can respond to any fluctuations in demand in under a second. It is capable of storing enough energy from the 4MW CHP system to meet the needs of 3,000 homes for one hour.

This ensures that the local businesses and residents benefit from stable and reliable power, without being exposed to any fluctuations.

We’re managing the project under a 10-year contract, providing various optimisation services and commercialising the battery in a number of DSR flexibility services. This enables the Council to earn an income to support its public services, while securing the reliability of its site operations and also contributing towards decarbonising the Grid.

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