As the world races towards a net-zero carbon emissions future, flexibility in our energy grids is becoming increasingly vital. In fact, without flexible energy storage and a more adaptable grid system, our efforts to embrace renewable energy sources could be rendered fruitless. So, what innovations are helping us achieve a more flexible grid energy storage system, and how are they transforming the energy sector as we know it?
Flexible Energy Storage: new technology and demand response
To incorporate variable renewable energy sources and levels into our power systems, we need to move towards a more flexible energy grid. This means utilising battery storage and other energy storage methods, in particular Long Duration Energy Storage for inter-seasonal and generational imbalance, as well as increasing demand response capabilities. In association with National Grid ESO, energy suppliers like Octopus have begun trialling and scaling demand flexibility services (DFS) in association with for consumer and some industrial users energy consumption. By engaging demand side in using less power during peak times, the DFS model demonstrates a promising step towards a future with a truly flexible grid.
Smart Apps: empowering users through connectivity
In a world where smartphones rule, apps are becoming mainstream tools that allow users to monitor their exact energy usage and reduce phantom loads, and support Time of Use tariff flexible management. Apps like Loop Energy and Equiwatt allow customers to engage with their energy consumption and adjust their habits accordingly. As a result, consumers gain a level of transparency that was previously unavailable, helping to create a grid that can adapt to demand more efficiently. Similarly the digitisation of the sector and the availability of data analytics means that great insights, access and efficiencies can be derived on the wholesale side, through specialiists such as Modo Energy and Squeaky for energy storage and renewable PPA contracts respectively.
Micro Reductions: every little bit counts
Last year, OFGEM gave the thumbs up to Electricity North West’s CLASS (Customer Load Active System Services) system, which makes micro reductions in power used by streetlights and household devices. While these tiny adjustments may not seem like much on their own, collectively, they can potentially save British consumers millions per year on electricity costs. By installing voltage controllers at substations, the CLASS system helps manage the National Grid’s dips and spikes, contributing to a more flexible grid. The North West regional trial delivered an approximate saving of £12 million per year ongoing, nationally this could have a huge impact for consumer costs.
Community Energy: grassroots action for a greener future
Although it’s easy to think that big energy companies should be the ones leading the charge towards renewable energy, real innovation and passion often come from community-based groups. Organisations like Community Energy England (CEE) support community energy projects that are changing the landscape of renewable energy, showing that change is happening from the ground up. Initiatives like Ripple Energy’s co-ownership model of wind farms and now a new solar development, demonstrate the potential for widespread community involvement and support.
Paving the way for a sustainable, adaptable energy future
Embracing flexible energy storage, demand response services, and community-driven initiatives are critical to ensuring a greener and more efficient energy grid. By staying ahead of the curve and adopting innovative technologies, we can create a more sustainable energy future for generations to come. Raising awareness of activities and schemes will also help position the energy transition in the populations mindset, in turn delivering incremental benefits and hopefully support of the larger structural changes to the Nation Grid that need to be delivered in the coming years.