Challenges in Store for Co-located Storage and Solar


Challenges in Store for Co-located Storage and Solar

19 January 2018
Vijay Shinde, grid services lead in our energy team: Solar generation is growing rapidly in the UK. In October 2017, total output stood at 12.5GW across more than 930,000 installations and ground mounted solar installations now account for 59 per cent of the total output, with 6.5GW Renewable Obligation Certificates (ROCs) accredited.

Clearly the incentives for generating solar power have had an impact. However, a major challenge for this type of renewable energy generation is ensuring that the capacity it delivers marries up with energy users’ demands.

Co-located large-scale batteries offer a potential solution to this problem. However, retrofitting batteries to existing solar facilities is not a straightforward operation, and the technical and regulatory challenges involved mean it will need to be done on an entirely bespoke, site-by-site basis.

Addressing the compliance challenge

The most significant issue for solar generators and their investors is retaining a site’s ROCs accreditation after a storage facility is added. This is a critical concern, as ROCs make up a sizeable share of the revenue for solar generators.

Energy that has been drawn from the grid, stored and re-supplied is not classed as green energy, meaning where the storage facility is located with respect to the different metering points in a solar installation is particularly crucial.

In order to comply with ROC rules, operators will need to place any batteries behind the generation meter for the solar farm, as this will provide assurance that only green energy and not power from the grid is being used to charge the batteries.

Ofgem handed out its first accreditation for a solar generation and battery facility in September 2017, and the regulator has said it will assess eligibility for sites on a case-by-case basis. It has recently published draft guidance on storage arrangements under the Renewable Obligation and Feed-in Tariff (FiT) schemes.

Any operators looking to go through the process must give notice of co-located storage in the same way as notifying changes to the generating station or installation, or the way in which support under the scheme is to be claimed.

A tough journey, but a big prize

Despite a solution to the issue of compliance with government incentives, there is an additional fundamental challenge that any operators investigating co-located batteries need to tackle - designing a battery system that would be justified from a cost/benefit perspective.

Stacking revenue streams to make batteries viable for colocation is a complex calculation. Then, the supplier must design a system that will enable it to capitalise on the opportunity and integrate it with the existing site.

While we are a long way from having a one-size-fits-all solution for implementing storage in operational solar farms, the first steps have been taken in a process that promises to make solar power better able to meet the country’s energy needs.

This article was originally written by Vijay Shinde and published in January’s edition of The Energyst

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