Plug In To The Flexible Benefits Of Battery Storage

The ability to store energy on site and use that power when required is an increasingly important capability for large manufacturing and industrial sites, says Graham Oxley, ENGIE's Managing Director of Energy with Services.

The UK’s energy mix is moving towards a greater proportion of renewable generation and a reduction in more stable and consistent fossil-fuel based generation. From National Grid’s point of view, that means more electricity storage and flexibility is required in the network to help stabilise supply and demand, given the increasingly intermittent power generation mix. Without greater support from demand-side storage and flexibility, incidents like the recent mass black-out on 9th August could become increasingly common.

For businesses, advancements in battery technology (in both performance and cost) mean that installing battery energy storage on site is now a more viable and affordable option than ever – and one that offers multiple benefits beyond simple power back-up.

Battery storage: how it works

Batteries can be specified to complement the capacity of any site. Large batteries on industrial sites can be stored securely outdoors. Batteries are connected into the site’s electricity load ‘behind the meter’ – so charging the battery will increase the site load, and discharging the battery will displace (reduce) site load. Batteries have no effect on site processes, and can be connected to both low-voltage and high-voltage networks. All battery control and monitoring can be optimised remotely from a non-site based control centre.

Security of supply

At the simplest level, batteries provide essential back-up power to protect a site from power cuts, voltage dips or other power-quality issues. It means the business will always have a source of power on site to keep essential processes running at all times, preventing disruption to operations. Batteries can be used to replace older diesel generators, offering a more environmentally friendly back-up that contributes to reducing carbon emissions for the business. As part of a wider grid-failure strategy, battery installation can provide the connection point for a rental generator, which can be connected in the event of a prolonged grid failure.

Earn revenue from balancing services

One of the most lucrative benefits of battery storage is participation in National Grid’s balancing services. National Grid requires demand-side participants (businesses) to help it balance network supply and demand. Electricity stored in batteries can provide much-needed flexibility to National Grid, enabling businesses to earn revenue by offering their battery capacity to the network.

Batteries are particularly suited to participation in dynamic frequency response. To provide this service, a business’s batteries will be connected directly to the grid and be automatically charged or discharged in response to frequency variations – helping National Grid to maintain control over system frequency. A site with batteries connected to the grid can provide the service continuously, and will receive ongoing payments for participation.

Reduce energy charges

By drawing on battery power to reduce demand from the grid at peak times, businesses can reduce their exposure to the high charges associated with Distribution Use of System (DUoS) red bands, Triads and Capacity Market charge periods. By contracting with an experienced battery solutions provider, a site’s batteries can be discharged and recharged remotely in response to price fluctuations, helping to dynamically shift load to avoid the highest costs.

Regulations are changing, however, and Ofgem’s Targeted Charging Review (TCR) has altered the way Transmission Network Use of System (TNUoS) charges are levied, so they will no longer be associated with Triad periods (from 2022-2023 onwards). That will remove the incentive to reduce consumption during Triad periods for many businesses. However, the Forward Looking Charge Review (FLCR) is underway and will change the incentives for demand flexibility. It means that opportunities for load shifting to avoid peak charges will change, but the flexibility provided by battery energy storage will always give a business the best chance to capitalise on whatever incentives and regulations are in place over the long term.

Optimising your battery installation

Traditionally, on-site batteries have been associated with storing electricity generated by solar panels. But using batteries solely to store excess electricity generated when the sun shines can be a challenging business model. Batteries can certainly be used for this purpose, but to optimise battery capabilities, solar and storage warrants a more complex run regime for the battery – a regime that maximises opportunities for generating revenue, reducing costs and implementing carbon-reduction strategies.

As an energy business with more than 20 years’ experience in the demand-side response (DSR) market, ENGIE has a track record of helping businesses to maximise revenues from their assets. ENGIE is now one of the largest shareholders of DSR aggregator and software provider, KiWi Power. In partnership, the two businesses are working to develop more intricate battery run regimes for commercial and industrial sites, ensuring that batteries provide continuous and long-term value for any business.

Remote management and monitoring

Once batteries are installed, they can be maintained and monitored remotely. As part of a managed run regime, batteries can be charged and discharged continuously to optimise opportunities for revenue generation and cost reduction. Such continuous battery deployment will take into account a business’s operational needs, alongside prevailing market rates, regulatory charges and balancing mechanism opportunities.

New opportunities in an evolving market

Industrial-scale batteries are a relative newcomer to the demand-side market, and ENGIE is actively exploring new opportunities for businesses to maximise revenues from these assets. One emerging opportunity is the potential to participate in National Grid’s wholesale energy market balancing mechanism. Previously, only large-scale generators successfully participated, but an increased focus by National Grid on smaller loads along with ever developing technology is increasingly opening up this income stream to demand-side participants, offering new opportunities for businesses to generate revenue from their on-site battery energy storage capacity.  

The new normal

Integrating batteries into a business’s energy-management regime could soon become part of business as usual for many large manufacturing and industrial organisations. Batteries are so much cleaner, easier to maintain and simpler to deploy than diesel generators as a source of back-up power. But the real advantages come in the opportunities that batteries unlock for participation in balancing market services and in managing energy flexibly as part of a coordinated strategy to minimise costs, reduce carbon emissions and maximise revenues.


Find out more about battery storage.

This article first appeared in the Energy In Buildings & Industry October magazine.

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