I’ve blogged a lot about the energy revolution in energy supply. But the tsunami of change is reaching far further than just energy retail – we’re seeing the impact on generation, through to transmission and distribution too.
A good example of this is the announcement from National Grid that they had dispatched a battery as part of their grid balancing services for the first time. Their new Ancillary Services Dispatching Platform (ASDP) came online, meaning that they can access and dispatch a greater range of technologies to meet the demands of energy users across the UK.
Whilst this doesn’t mean that we’ll see a flood of different types of generation and storage technologies being used in periods of high demand straight away, this is a big step forward in shifting our Grid and transmission systems away from traditional large scale, centralised generation sources that operate on a baseload basis. Historically, these sources have been large, centrally invested pieces of infrastructure that cost a lot to build and run (the new nuclear station at Hinckley being a case in point with the £92.50 MWh strike price agreed by the Government), with lifespans of 40 + years. And if you take nuclear out of the mix (perhaps the reason for that amazing strike price!), they are also the most polluting of our electricity sources.
Over the past 10-15 years we’ve seen the very necessary growth of renewables, with on and off-shore wind and solar providing large amounts of capacity – but only when the wind blows and the sun shines. This in itself has meant increased complexity for a grid that was originally built for very predictable supply. Add in new tools such as large scale battery storage and other Demand Side Response technologies, as well as a smearing of demand peaks through increased EV use and in-home storage, the Grid now has to deal with a great deal more unpredictability and flexibility.
Which is why it’s great to see National Grid responding with a range of new technologies, pilots and consultations to ensure that the existing system can cope with the requirements of the future. This ASDP is just one example of how the fixed (and essential) assets we have are keeping up with a move towards rapid decarbonisation and the revolution of the energy sector. They’re also regularly publishing their Future Energy Scenarios – which industry participants can contribute to. Over the coming weeks and months I’m going to be exploring the world of battery storage, DSR and other new technologies in a bit more detail – stay tuned!