Household batteries will be key to UK’s new energy strategy

26th July 2017 | Residential Energy

Batteries and renewable power sources are on the verge of bringing about an “epochal transformation” of the UK that could make energy clean, abundant and very cheap, according to a cabinet minister. As the government unveiled plans for a more flexible energy system and £246m of funding for battery research, Greg Clark told the Guardian that a smarter grid would “radically” bring down bills.

“Energy, for the last 100 years, for good reasons, we’ve rationed the consumption of [because] it’s been very expensive and environmentally-damaging to consume fossil fuels. [But] given the possibilities we are on the cusp of at the moment, we might move to a world where energy is clean and abundant,” said the business secretary.

Storing intermittent renewable power in batteries so it was ready when the grid needed it would bring down costs for everyone, including vulnerable and low income energy consumers, he said.

“If only we can capture if [power form the sun and wind] then we can go from energy being a worrying cost to people, to being, if not free, then very cheap,” Clark said, speaking in Birmingham on Monday as he put energy at the centre of the government’s industrial strategy.

Renewables have grown from almost nothing a decade ago to supplying more than a quarter of the UK’s power today, and are expected to increase their share further as costs fall and reach subsidy-free levels.

But the variable nature of wind and solar power generation means that local energy networks and the National Grid need more flexibility to cope with those fluctuations. Batteries, and the ability for energy firms to automatically reduce electricity demand from willing businesses and households, are at the heart of a plan published by government and Ofgem.

Ofgem said using technology to flatten out peak demand and avoiding the cost for reinforcements to energy networks would save consumers £17bn-£40bn by 2050. The regulator said that the 29 changes to energy regulation announced on Monday, which will come in over the next 18 months, would also encourage new, tech-savvy entrants into the energy market.

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