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PREVENTING CLIMATE CATASTROPHE

Last month, a report from the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) claimed that Climate change must be limitedglobal warming should be limited to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels to prevent altering the planet’s liveability, and stated that global warming is currently headed towards 3°C[1]. In this Industry Insight, Powerstar will summarise the outcomes of the report and what changes can be made, on both a macro (internationally) and micro (individual companies) level, to limit climate change.

  • The warnings of the report
  • How can technology minimise climate change?
  • The business case for energy storage
  • Conclusion

The warnings of the report

With the report being produced by world-leading scientists, the warnings of the report carry extra certain gravitas that is difficult to ignore, and the intense damage to the planet that is forecasted to occur, should climate change not be limited to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels, should act as a worldwide call to action.

One of the major reasons why the IPCC suggests limiting global warming to 1.5°C rather than 2°C is that this is projected to lower the impact on terrestrial, freshwater, and coastal ecosystems and retain more of their services to humans1. The fact that the IPCC is suggesting that the 1.5°C target will only limit the erosion of entire ecosystems rather than preserve these ecosystems in their current state emphasises how endangered and fragile these ecosystems are due to global warming, and that drastic action is required to enable these ecosystems to remain in a recognisable condition.

Additionally, another headline statement displays the benefit of the 1.5°C target. This states that “In model pathways with no or limited overshoot of 1.5°C, global net anthropogenic CO2 emissions decline by about 45% from 2010 levels by 2030, reaching net zero around 2050”1. This statement shows that commitment to this target on a global scale would help the planet return to a less harmful emissions level, although the IPCC did add the caveat that pathways limiting global warming to 1.5°C would require “… rapid and far-reaching transitions in energy, land, urban and infrastructure, and industrial systems”1.

How can climate change be minimised?

With the report and the warnings set out in the IPCC report being so bleak, urging immediate and extensive change, attention has naturally turned to what can be done to achieve the 1.5°C target and help minimise the damage to ecosystems and risks to humans and economies.

As ever, technology will be at the forefront of finding a solution to the climate change problem and one such technology that is proven to be effective in clean energy strategies is energy storage.

Energy storage allows for the maximising of renewable generation as the intermittent nature of renewable energy can be harnessed in a more effective way. This means that over-generation of renewable energy such as solar PV or wind, during particularly sunny or windy periods, isn’t wasted and is instead stored for use when most beneficial. Maximising renewable generators helps to decarbonise the energy network by it lessening reliance on fossil fuels for the supply of energy. Decarbonisation is already a vital pillar of the UK’s climate change policy as it was enveloped into UK law through the Climate Change Act of 2008, which pledges the UK to reduce emissions by at least 80% of 1990 levels by 2050[2]. However, this commitment could be reviewed as a consequence of the IPCC report. This is especially the case as the growth of the energy storage market accelerates as energy storage minimises the requirement for large power plants to nationally distribute large volumes of energy to local networks, as they can instead use locally generated, stored energy to run more efficiently as part of a connected micro-grid, relieving strain from the grid and supporting the shift to cleaner energy in a quicker timeframe.

Decarbonisation is just one of the three D’s that make energy storage an important technology in the battle against climate change. The second is decentralisation, which refers to energy that is generated off the main grid[3], which requires the simultaneous uptake of, distributed storage, energy efficiency, and demand response.

The third and final D of energy storage is digitalisation and refers to the digital technology that allows for greater connectivity between smart energy systems. This connectivity to other energy efficiency technology allows energy users to use energy flexibly whilst identifying further optimisations to reduce energy consumption.

The business case for energy storage

Despite the clean credentials of energy storage, businesses can be hesitant to invest unless the financial VIRTUE business casebenefits from the solution can be proven. That’s why leading energy storage solutions, such as Powerstar VIRTUE, offer a variety of ways in which the solution can benefit a business.

Powerstar VIRTUE offers cost-saving benefits through activities such as Triad avoidance and peak DUoS shaving. The former is achieved by removing a site’s load during a Triad event and the latter is a benefit from charging a system during times of low demand, and discharging during times of high demand to circumnavigate the higher tariffs that arise in those periods. Additionally, the stored energy can be used to participate in demand side response (DSR) activities, to ensure that the grid remains balanced. DSR activities range from participation in grid contracts to energy arbitrage, selling stored energy for a profit, and are not restricted to experts or those with large reserves of energy as aggregators can group energy users together in order to organise new revenue streams which suit the requirements of different users. Powerstar simplify this by working with expert aggregators to ensure the best scenario for end users.

A further way that Powerstar VIRTUE can be of financial benefit is the cost saving that arises from the integration of patented voltage regulation technology. This integration automatically applies the reduced energy consumption and energy costs of voltage regulation to an energy storage solution and can provide as much as 26.5% of the business case for a 1MW energy storage solution across a 15-year timeframe.

A final example of Powerstar VIRTUE building a robust business case comes from the benefit of its ability to provide full Uninterruptible Power Supply (UPS). In this instance, the stored energy is used to power the site in the event of an energy-related failure, such as a voltage dip, blackout or brownout, ensuring no loss of power is experienced. This negates any downtime which can be costly, with an average instance of machine downtime costing £12,042 to UK manufacturers[4]. As a second generation UPS, it can provide a seamless response which ensures that there is no interruption to the site’s load as it is supported within 1 millisecond of an energy-related failure being detected, allowing the failure to pass by unnoticed. Additionally, as a site-wide solution, it provides backup to the entire site rather than the system-specific backup provided by traditional UPS systems whilst being more environmentally-friendly than traditional UPS systems. Most UPS systems utilise approximately 10% of the system’s capacity to monitor the grid in preparation for an event whereas in contrast, VIRTUE only uses in the region of 20 watts to monitor the grid through its built-in software, further reducing energy consumption and costs.

Conclusion

It is clear that on all levels, efforts need to be heightened across the world to prevent climate change of a catastrophic nature. A proven, actionable step towards achieving this for many businesses is energy storage technology. Alongside its capability to improve the climate through maximising renewable energy, energy storage is a technology which sees a further boost to its business case through the cost saving, revenue generating, and energy resilience benefits that can be integrated with it.

[1] https://ipcc.ch/report/sr15/

[2] https://www.theccc.org.uk/tackling-climate-change/reducing-carbon-emissions/carbon-budgets-and-targets/

[3] https://www.carbontrust.com/news/2013/01/decentralised-energy-powering-a-sustainable-future/

[4] Oneserve Infinite, The staggering cost of machine downtime in the UK

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