Whilst not a new concept, the three D’s of energy storage continue to hold prominence and prove themselves to be integral to the transition of the energy network and landscape to a low-carbon economy. They are undoubtedly the agents of change and disruption to a previously historic, traditional and centralised UK energy network.Energy storage
The three D’s of energy storage, defined as decarbonisation, decentralisation and digitalisation, remain crucial to the acceleration into the future energy landscape as they force utilities, the grid, suppliers and businesses alike to embrace and support technology and climate change initiatives.
A term so intrinsically linked to the future of the UK’s energy network, decentralisation is an essential component that will negate the otherwise inevitable million pound infrastructure upgrade required to support the increased demand and challenges that the 21st century continues to bring to the grid.
It is the opposite of the current centralised system the UK has which sees all energy distributed from a central source – the National Grid.
Decentralisation requires the simultaneous uptake of several different components: distributed generation from renewable sources; distributed storage to allow for the time-shifting of energy to flatten demand spikes and dips; energy efficiency to reduce consumption levels; and demand response to encourage and enable the smart and flexible use of energy to provide support to the grid when required. All this would ideally be delivered by one combined system to offer a complete, easy to implement distributed solution.
In addition to this, the decentralised network could be supported by full Uninterruptible Power Supply (UPS) capabilities as part of the distributed solution, allowing for seamless or rapid support to the load in case of a supply issue, thereby ensuring the security of supply and boosting energy resilience.
The use of a decentralised network will facilitate both the support of balancing demand on the National Grid, as demand will be met by decentralised networks whilst also firming renewables, as well as providing tangible benefits to the businesses who deploy decentralised energy storage solutions delivering cost savings, supply resilience and energy efficiency.
Decarbonisation, in simple terms, is the reduction of carbon content – which, within this context, is defined as the process of reducing or removing carbon dioxide from energy sources.
It is the key driver behind most Government policy and integral to achieving a low-carbon economy due to the well-documented negative impact that carbon dioxide has on the environment and towards climate change.
Energy storage, particularly as a component of a decentralised energy network, provides a great opportunity to ramp up the process of decarbonisation as it has the potential to maximise the contribution of renewable or ‘green’ energy as part of the UK’s energy mix by reducing the intermittency of renewables, therefore reducing the requirement of fossil fuels to meet growing energy demands.
Although, renewable generation is not the only contribution energy storage technologies can provide the network in terms of decarbonisation. It is also the case that by using energy storage to enable time-shifting or peak shaving – the process of storing energy from renewable and non-renewable sources during off-peak times when energy may otherwise be wasted and utilising it during peak times – will reduce consumption from the grid during peak periods, once again reducing the requirement for fossil fuels whilst providing cost savings to the business deploying the energy storage solution.
Lastly, as a tailored solution, energy storage is able to provide other services such as DSR and voltage regulation to further enhance its contribution to decarbonisation.
Decarbonisation is unavoidable as it is enshrined in UK law through the Climate Change Act with the Government pledging to reduce emissions by at least 80% of 1990 levels by 2050. To achieve this target the Government has set five-yearly carbon budgets which currently run until 2032 with the current budget of 2018 to 2022 required to reach the target of a 37% reduction below 1990 levels by 2020. This emphasises the importance of adopting technologies capable of contributing to decarbonisation as soon as possible.
The final term of the trio, digitalisation, is roughly defined within the energy storage context as digital technology that allows for a greater connection between smart energy systems.
One clear application of digitalisation, is the ability to remotely monitor energy storage systems and connected assets in order to record, monitor and review vital statistics. This capability is especially important for both decentralisation and decarbonisation as it offers an accurate way to track how much energy is needed at a particular time and therefore can aid in decisions on peak avoidance and arbitrage, in addition to providing insight into opportunities to further optimise the use of energy.
As the UK transitions to a cleaner energy network as outlined in the Clean Growth Strategy in order to combat the threat of climate change, the significant role and contribution of energy storage solutions such as Powerstar VIRTUE are becoming ever more apparent and important.
This is due to the three D’s ability to offer a holistic solution as increased decarbonisation, enabled by decentralisation which is in turn aided by digitalisation is set to increase the likelihood of the UK meeting its emissions reductions targets and providing a healthier environment.
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