When the grid is unreliable or non-existent you need an alternative source of power which is often a diesel generator and more recently renewables. But this still falls short of the optimal solution especially when diesel is often expensive and always very polluting.
How about having a system that can bring all of this together and provide reliable power cheaply and cleanly?
Combining and managing multiple power supplies and matching that to a building and its building management system requires a Building Energy Management System (BEMS).
Our Energy Storage Systems (ESS) optimise the performance of these various items, minimising diesel runtime, coping with PV surplus, bridging the gap when the grid collapses. The ESS will also control the various electrical circuits according to a priority schedule of business needs.
You can run off-grid reliably, you won’t be so dependent on diesel, you can make the most out of your power without squandering what is after all a precious resource.
Storage allows the consumer to decide when and where they want to use the energy. The electricity in our national grid networks is almost instantaneously available and is created as you need it. Unbelievable as it may sound when you switch on the light in the bedroom, the power station that supplies you will have to burn an extra bit of fuel and send out down the wire to make that bulb glow. We all tend to sleep at the same time and we all tend to eat our meals at the same time this same network has to cope with these large changes between high demand and low demand. However, and this is one of the key points to appreciate, in order to cope with the peaks the system, the wires and associated components between all have to be designed and built around the size of the peak. What if we could flatten the peak?
Energy storage means that you can collect energy over a long period of time (when we’re asleep) and make it available for the short periods of time when there is a surge in demand. It’s not necessary to size the entire network around the peaks which is important not just when you’re planning to build a new network, say in parts of Africa where there’s never been one but also in the UK where our network needs a huge overhaul and upgrade. ESS can smooth out the peaks and allow the whole grid to work more efficiently so we don’t have to invest in such large wires, transformers, or switches and hence we don’t have to borrow so much money. This is true for both new grids and for upgrading existing grids.
You might wonder why we need to upgrade our grids. The reason is twofold, firstly because the equipment is reaching the end of its design life and needs replacing and secondly because the projected energy needs for the country, and for the rest of the world are rising. Energy efficiency has made a big dent in our consumption but with ever larger populations and ever bigger economies plus more and more energy consuming goods, the need for electricity is only ever going to increase; we haven’t yet talked about Electric Vehicles.
Electricity is the most required power source, because it is clean and efficient and can work in a myriad of ways: as a heat source, turning a motor, or running the TV or computer. Petrol powered mobile phones aren’t ever going to catch on and besides you’d still need the petrol to generate electricity as computer chips need electricity not liquid fuel.
Energy storage makes all of these things more technically efficient and therefore more cost effective and just like the renewables revolution, as the demand grows the market will deliver ever greater economies of scale. Already today ESS makes sense in many situations, so tomorrow it will have wider appeal and the day after it will be even more so.
Energy storage is the missing piece of the clean energy puzzle which will finally allow the entire world to generate and consume electricity in a cost effective, democratic, independent, scalable and clean way.
All other things being equal, the cheapest solution will be the most successful and renewable energy and energy storage are fast becoming that cheapest solution. That’s not to say we will be done with fossil fuel and nuclear power any time soon, or indeed ever, but rather that the cleantech revolution is reaching the point where it is both better and cheaper than the alternatives.