As businesses increasingly recognise the critical role of sustainable energy practices, the importance of energy storage solutions has grown significantly in today’s dynamic energy landscape. This heightened awareness stems from a collective commitment to reduce environmental impact and achieve long-term energy efficiency goals that ultimately save costs. The energy storage sector has evolved rapidly to meet these demands, offering a diverse array of commercial solutions tailored to the specific needs of businesses in the UK.
In this article, we’ll be exploring the dynamic landscape of energy storage solutions like battery, hydrogen, pumped hydro, thermal and more, shedding light on the array of options available to UK businesses seeking innovative and sustainable approaches to address their energy storage needs – helping you make an informed decision on what’s best for your site.
What is an energy storage solution?
By definition: an energy storage solution refers to a system or technology that’s capable of storing energy produced at one time for use at a later time. The fundamental concept behind energy storage is to capture excess energy, generated from fluctuating sources like wind and solar, and store it for periods when demand exceeds supply.
This capability is crucial in addressing the inherent intermittency of renewable energy sources, ensuring a consistent and reliable power supply despite the variable nature of wind and solar energy. By effectively balancing energy demand and supply, energy storage solutions play a pivotal role in stabilising grid networks and facilitating a smoother transition to net zero carbon goals, making these solutions indispensable in today’s energy landscape.
5 Types of energy storage for UK businesses
The significance of energy storage lies in its ability to balance the fluctuations between energy demand and supply, fostering a more stable and resilient energy grid. By mitigating the challenges posed by intermittent renewable sources, energy storage solutions contribute to a more sustainable and reliable energy ecosystem, aligning with the evolving needs of businesses in the UK seeking reliable and efficient energy management strategies.
(1) Battery energy storage systems
Batteries are at the forefront of energy storage solutions, with lithium batteries leading the charge due to their high energy density and efficiency.
Lithium Iron Phosphate (LiFePO4) has become the leading battery chemistry for behind the meter and industrial applications due to their affordability, safety and long cycle life. They are also more environmentally friendly as they contain iron phosphate in the battery cathode rather than cobalt used in Lithium Ion batteries. Lithium Ion has led the way in the consumer electronics market, for applications such as smartphones and tablets that require compact, high-power solutions due to its light weight and high energy density.
Lead-acid batteries, on the other hand, are known for their reliability and cost-effectiveness, making them suitable for backup power and utility-scale storage, despite their lower energy density and shorter lifespan.
Sodium-salt batteries are emerging as a viable alternative, offering the potential for safer and more sustainable energy storage with lower environmental impact.
- High energy density
Compact and powerful energy storage capabilities.
Adaptable from small-scale residential to large-scale grid applications.
- High efficiency
Optimal performance with minimal energy conversion loss.
- Complex supply chains
All batteries are made of multiple materials which can be challenging for vertical integration and control of resources across the board.
- Environmental disposal
Due to the nature of the complex component resourcing, batteries are complicated to recycle.
(2) Hydrogen energy storage
Hydrogen storage involves the conversion of water into hydrogen and oxygen through electrolysis, which can be stored and later converted back to electricity through fuel cells. While its round-trip efficiency is lower than that of battery systems, hydrogen storage stands out for its ability to store energy for longer durations and its potential for large-scale storage.
- Potential for large-scale and long-term storage.
- Versatility in application across energy, transport, and industry sectors.
- Lower efficiency (40-50%) compared to battery energy storage.
- High costs associated with electrolyzers and fuel cells.
- Challenges in hydrogen handling and storage.
(3) Pumped hydro storage
Pumped hydro storage (PHS) is one of the oldest and most developed forms of energy storage, involving the pumping of water from a lower reservoir to a higher reservoir when energy supply exceeds demand, and releasing it back to generate electricity when needed. PHS systems can be adapted to smaller scales using man-made reservoirs on smaller hills, providing flexibility in location and scale.
- Proven technology with a reliable track record.
- Long lifespan, ensuring durability and sustained performance.
- High capacity suitable for large-scale energy storage applications.
- Low maintenance and running costs
- Geographic dependence limits sitting flexibility.
- Potential environmental impact on local ecosystems.
- High development and infrastructure cost
- High initial infrastructure costs for development and construction.
(4) Thermal energy storage
Thermal energy storage systems capture heat or cold for later use, significantly contributing to energy management in heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) systems. These systems can store excess renewable energy as heat in materials like water, molten salts, or phase change materials, which can then be used for space heating, domestic hot water, or industrial processes.
- Efficient integration with HVAC systems.
- Potential to reduce peak energy demand.
- Use of low-cost materials in storage systems.
- Specific to heating and cooling applications.
- Potential for energy losses over time.
- Requires significant space for storage media.
(5) Flywheel energy storage
Flywheel energy storage systems store kinetic energy in a rotating mass and release it by slowing down the flywheel. They are particularly useful for short-term energy storage, offering high power density, rapid charge and discharge cycles, and long service life.
- High efficiency in energy storage and release.
- Long lifecycle, minimising replacement frequency.
- Immediate energy release, ideal for applications needing quick response.
- Limited energy storage capacity for short durations only.
- High upfront investment costs.
- Regular mechanical maintenance requirements.
Choosing the right energy storage provider
Selecting an energy storage solutions provider is a pivotal decision for any organisation, whether it’s for residential, commercial, or industrial applications. The scale of application significantly influences the choice, as different providers specialise in varying scopes, from small-scale home solutions to expansive industrial systems.
Cost-effectiveness and return on investment (ROI) are paramount considerations, necessitating a thorough analysis of upfront costs against long-term savings and potential earnings from energy storage.
The technological maturity and lifespan of the offered solutions, including warranty terms and cycle life, are crucial indicators of reliability and performance over time. Providers like Wattstor, with platforms that offer fully automated operations without the need for an aggregator, present an attractive proposition by enabling auto-revenue-generation and optimisation of multiple assets behind the meter, enhancing the value derived from the investment.
A transparent supply chain reassures customers of the ethical and sustainable sourcing of components, aligning with growing environmental consciousness. Moreover, the environmental implications of the storage technology itself, in terms of recyclability and carbon footprint, are increasingly under scrutiny.
Opting for a provider that allows stacking multiple revenue streams, through features like wholesale and imbalance trading and peak shaving, can significantly enhance the financial viability of energy storage investments, making it a critical factor in the selection process.
Introducing BESS from Wattstor
Our battery energy storage system sits alongside our award-winning EMS platform, Podium, to connect distributed energy resources (DERs), maximise on-site generation, create a buffer between your site and price volatility, and break through grid constraints.
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