Balancing act: Storage and flexible energy vital to UK's renewables tipping point

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Balancing act: Storage and flexible energy vital to UK's renewables tipping point

Like similar laws in many other states, Pennsylvania's Alternative Energy Portfolio Standards Act (the AEPS Act) requires electric distribution companies (EDCs) and competitive retail electric generation suppliers (EGSs) to purchase an increasing percentage of energy from renewable energy sources.

"Multilateral Development Banks and other financial institutions (should) provide whole-hearted support for solar projects through low cost finance, and research and technology institutions worldwide should try their utmost to bring the cost of solar power and storage within the reach of all", Anand Kumar, Secretary, Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE) said.

"Renewable energy with storage is now cheaper than new coal, and the reality is that any new coal plant will take at least seven years to be built if everything goes smoothly". The study revealed that hydro will account for 67% of power generated in Nordic countries by 2040.

"In this environment, flexible power technologies such as energy storage and gas generators will have an advantage", the report states.

At certain times, the report notes, wind and solar energy could exceed total power demand across the UK. But it argues new flexible grid technologies should mean curtailment does not climb to significant levels. The study found that the intermittency of wind and solar energy will create wildly varying outputs from renewable energy generation in the United Kingdom by 2040.

"This study highlights a seismic shift in how power systems will operate in future", said Albert Cheung, head of global analysis at Bloomberg New Energy Finance.

"Renewable energy is now the cheapest and cleanest option for new energy generation and when combined with energy storage it can do everything fossil fuels can - except much more flexibly and without the pollution", he said. "These solutions could include continued promotion of smart metering, reforms to increase market openness and transparency for all grid ancillary services and long-term grid service contracts and pricing schemes", he explained.

The cost of generating energy from wind and solar in the United Kingdom is expected to halve by 2040, but the expected future power system volatility will lead to more economic opportunities for flexible energy sources and storage capacity.

According to the study, battery storage is not well suited to providing back-up across weeks and months.

It also comes on the same day as the International Energy Agency published its annual World Energy Outlook report, which predicts a seismic shift in the global energy market through to 2040, with China taking the lead on renewables and nuclear generation over the next three decades as the United States becomes a leader in oil and gas exports. The next tipping point is expected in the late 2020s, where the cost of power produced by new wind and solar projects falls below existing gas and coal plants.

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