Distributed Energy: Innovation in solar

15 August 2016

The solar industry is going through a period of transition following changes in government policy. Innovation will be a key aspect of businesses that succeed in the solar industry long term as industry players explore unique ways of thinking and bring new perspective on how they do business.

Our latest industry report highlights case studies that showcase different ways in which solar can continue to shine. There are a number of interesting projects and products being developed that are happening in the industry now.

This blog showcases two projects in the solar industry that highlight the kind of innovation that can secure a positive future for solar energy in the UK.

Electric Corby: Innovative demand solution in ‘District of the Future’

Electric Corby is an example of an ambitious, forward-looking project that could be encouraged and supported. Corby is England’s fastest-growing area outside London by population and an innovative community energy project is drawing further attention to the town.

Electric Corby aims to cut consumption, carbon emissions and bills for both business and domestic customers.

Cloud based network

Its first initiative is a cloud-based connected network linking buildings across the town that can make real-time demand adjustments in response to changes in supply. The system utilises algorithms to optimise demand through smart appliances and timing of consumption.

James Napier, CEO of Resero Power, which developed the software being used by not-for-profit Electric Corby in their joint Community Energy programme, said:

“If solar PV is at peak generation, the system will schedule nonessential consumption to match this supply.”

“In businesses, anything mission critical will continue but it can turn down air conditioning and lighting when appropriate.”

Energy consumption

Mr Napier said home hubs could cut energy consumption by 25%, compared with savings of 2-3% with smart meters. Electric Corby is set to launch later this year with around 5MW of demand and the plan is to grow this to 35MW to 50MW.

There is no plan to take Corby off-grid but one of the scheme’s benefits would be that in future a single tariff could be offered locally to both pre-pay and direct debit customers. Several other towns are interested in replicating the scheme, which has seen Corby recognised as a ‘District of the Future’ by the European Commission.

 

BELECTRIC UK: Battery storage solution for delicate grid balancing act

Balancing the grid during sudden fluctuations in supply and demand will be a growing challenge as generation from renewables increases. The UK’s electricity grid must run at a frequency of 50Hz to remain stable but if demand exceeds generation, the frequency falls, and if generation exceeds demand, it rises.

Real-time balancing

Real-time balancing solutions are required but frequency response provided by traditional power plants with steam turbines can take 30 seconds to take effect.

Solar power specialist BELECTRIC UK has used its experience of integrating solar energy into grids in 29 countries to develop a far more dynamic, battery storage solution. BELECTRIC’s Energy Buffer Units (EBUs), which are housed in 40-ft containers, are already widely used on the network in Germany, where BELECTRIC was one of the first three providers of frequency regulation solutions.

National Grid is currently seeking its first 200MW of UK balancing solutions through its Enhanced Frequency Response (EFR) tender and the company is bidding for 50MW. The EFR’s requirements are to draw power out of the network or push power into the network to the full capacity of any system within one second.

Duncan Bott, Managing Director of BELECTRIC UK, said: “The EBU’s ability to increase its output power from 0 to 100% in 40 milliseconds is a market leading achievement.

“It measures the local network, senses a frequency deviation and autonomously provides a proportional response.”

Mr Bott said faster response has proportionally greater benefits for the network and could create a “step change” in cost efficiency in the future.

 

To help us to gain greater insight into how the industry looks in 2016 and what its future priorities are, we conducted a survey in conjunction with the Solar Trade Association. To view the key findings of the survey, please click here to review the report.

 

 

John Dashwood | Head of Renewables, Assurance
Email | +44 (0)1895 522212

 

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