Tue 20 Mar 2018

What does 2018 hold for the smart energy storage market?


All utilities networks currently face challenges in operating a seamless grid. Fluctuating fossil fuel prices, clean alternative development and environmental extremes have led to irregularity in the capability of their infrastructure, which has been reflected in changeable energy prices. Customers at the end of the energy supply chain end up bearing the brunt of price spikes and increasingly intermittent supply. Their dissension is palpable.

The case is already strong

For utilities all over the world, energy storage options are being investigated and trialled as a means to limit the flux in electricity supply and prices and build network resilience.

Queen’s University Belfast has been testing battery storage on Ireland’s energy network. Results show 360 megawatts (MW) of battery storage could provide the equivalent energy stabilisation of 3,000 MW of conventional generation from fossil sources. This could save up to 22.5 million USD a year, smooth supply and lower the chances of bill shock in periods of mismatched supply and demand.

Early results from South Australia look promising

In December 2017, less than a month after Tesla unveiled a new backup power system in South Australia, the world’s largest lithium-ion battery was already being put to the test and appeared to be surpassing expectations. In the last three weeks of December alone, the Hornsdale Power Reserve smoothed out at least two major energy outages, responding faster than the coal-fired backups that were supposed to provide emergency power.

Confidence is growing

Greentech Media’s Energy Storage Summit saw a panel of 500 industry attendees come together to discuss the potential of smart energy storage:

• 36 per cent thought battery storage would replace fossil fuel generation as the primary means of tackling peak load demands
• Only 5 in 500 thought energy storage was incapable of replacing fossil fuels
• 50 per cent believed 61-100 per cent of all utilities would include energy storage in their long-term grid resourcing by 2022

From network to household

The ability of this new technology is also being tested on an individual scale to allow utilities customers to better manage energy consumption and control utilities billing. UK-based Connected Energy’s recently-developed battery storage system has received a 2.35 million USD investment to fund testing of this technology in households across the UK and Europe.

How can retailers leverage smart storage to deepen customer relationships?

With battery roll-out now on the near horizon, what’s the commercial rub for retailers and distributors?

• Loyalty – with battery storage supporting more efficient generation and transmission, there are fewer supply spikes. This means more certainty for new entrant energy retailers, who can face huge losses when faced with price rises or risk losing customers when they pass on price hikes – 25 per cent of electricity customers said an unexpectedly large bill was a trigger to switch providers, according to EY.
• Differentiation – retailers can offer novel products, tariffs and bundles that attract and retain customers. In an innovative move to engage with customers, New Zealand’s Vector introduced a two-way EV “vehicle-to-grid” V2G EV charger. By helping to position EV as a mobile power source, vehicles can provide a power boost to homes and businesses when electricity prices are at their peak.
• Engagement – at a time when network companies are struggling to develop strong customer relationships, the ability to create value-added services, such as local energy generation and storage, can deepen connections and build commercial growth opportunities.

At Gentrack we’re all about enabling the energy revolution. Our ‘bill anything’ engine enables retailers and distributors to embrace the latest developments in battery storage and subsequently develop innovative products and services at pace. This provides them with a means to further their customer relationships and help customers better manage energy consumption while minimising their impact on the environment. Let’s talk smart energy storage today.