Power shortages could switch off UK’s Christmas lights next year
Shortages in power could worsen and threaten the UK’s ability to keep the lights on next winter. This means we could see potential power outages over Christmas next year.
According to the British Infrastructure Group (BIG), the National Grid’s safety buffer this winter has shrunk to 0.1%. There is a sustained danger of intermittent blackouts for the foreseeable future, thanks to dwindling base capacity. This could be further exacerbated by freak weather events.
This winter, the National Grid will pay around 800 times the average wholesale price for 2015 and four times the cost of last year’s emergency reserves.
All of this has an effect on household energy bills with some energy rationing even coming into force in the event of severe shortages or freak weather.
Grim future scenarios could see green energy being put on the back burner while old coal power stations are restarted to increase the UK’s energy buffer.
The report from BIG suggests households and businesses need to be more energy efficient but the government needs to review energy policies.
Accompanying a general efficiency drive should come a decentralisation and relaxation of government rules (such as planning permission and consultation) around constructing combined heat and power plants on industrial sites or large complexes. Decentralised projects can deliver more than 20 percent higher efficiency through shorter electric transmission distances and through better use of heat that would ordinarily be wasted in large power stations.
While it’s important the government continues to invest in renewable energy, without reliable storage techniques, there’s always going to be the chance of a shortfall on those cold, windless winter nights. Energy storage is difficult but there have been a number companies making breakthroughs with different technologies.
The report concludes: “Currently, the British electricity network is going backwards. Capacity margins are so tight that National Grid’s emergency power deals have become the norm. Consumers, both domestic and business, having once reaped the benefits of tumbling prices after the 1990smarket reforms, are now resigned to paying ever-higher electricity bills. Some households may even face the prospect of power being rationed and returning to a three-day week. Some businesses already have. This is surely a failure of any nationally-directed power strategy.”
Hydrostor receives $4m funding for A-CAES facility in Canada
Hydrostor has received $4m funding to develop a 300-500MW Advanced Compressed Air Energy Storage (A-CAES) facility in Canada.
The funding will be used to complete essential engineering and planning, and enable Hydrostor to plan construction.
The project will be modeled on Hydrostor’s commercially operating Goderich storage facility, providing up to 12 hours of energy storage.
Hydrostor’s A-CAES system supports Canada’s green economic transition by designing, building, and operating emissions-free energy storage facilities, and employing people, suppliers, and technologies from the oil and gas sector.
The Honorable Seamus O’Regan, Jr. Minister of Natural Resources, said: “Investing in clean technology will lower emissions and increase our competitiveness. This is how we get to net zero by 2050.”
A-CAES has the potential to lower greenhouse gas emissions by enabling the transition to a cleaner and more flexible electricity grid. Specifically, the low-impact and cost-effective technology will reduce the use of fossil fuels and will provide reliable and bankable energy storage solutions for utilities and regulators, while integrating renewable energy for sustainable growth.
Curtis VanWalleghem, Hydrostor’s Chief Executive Officer, said: “We are grateful for the federal government’s support of our long duration energy storage solution that is critical to enabling the clean energy transition. This made-in-Canada solution, with the support of NRCan and Sustainable Development Technology Canada, is ready to be widely deployed within Canada and globally to lower electricity rates and decarbonize the electricity sector."
The Rosamond A-CAES 500MW Project is under advanced development and targeting a 2024 launch. It is designed to turn California’s growing solar and wind resources into on-demand peak capacity while allowing for closure of fossil fuel generating stations.
Hydrostor closed US$37 million (C$49 million) in growth financing in September 2019.