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Battery technology needed for fast UK renewable power expansion – ICIS

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ICIS Editorial
15-Jul-2022
By Sophie Handler
LONDON (ICIS)–Battery technology and accurate weather forecasts will be crucial to the rapid expansion of renewable capacity in the UK, market sources said.
Although a vast number of renewable energy projects are now under development to ensure that the UK’s energy targets are met, there are still a number of issues that will prevent some goals from being achieved.
The government currently aims to cut the processing time for offshore wind farms from 13 to six years before 2030, meaning that wind power production will increase rapidly in coming years.
Offshore wind generation is set to reach 160TWh by 2030, making up most of the UK power generation mix, according to ICIS analytics.

However, there needs to be sufficient storage capacity in place to ensure that increased renewable production is being used productively.
CURRENT ISSUES
The growing capacity of wind generation is likely to break the grid, a trader active in the UK market said.
“Pump storage is a fantastic solution. Current batteries do not solve the issues. If we can get more long duration storage, that is what is required, four to eight hour runs not 30-60 minutes,” the trader said.
This is because the grid is built around steady flows of energy, which due to its unpredictable nature is not something that wind power is able to provide.
Geographic location creates transport issues, a second trader said, meaning that some areas will struggle to be supplied with wind power.
“The whole green push and renewable adaptation truly rely on battery technology and extremely accurate weather forecasts,” the second trader said.
Battery storage will allow for management of excess supply which has equal potential to cause blackouts if not managed by the grid.
UK ENERGY TARGETS
A statement regarding the UK’s energy strategy was released on 7 April to provide guidance for challenges surrounding energy insecurity.
New strategies are being shaped by long-term targets for renewable sources such as wind and solar power, which hope to boost long term energy independence and security. This is becoming especially important as Russia’s invasion of Ukraine continues to threaten energy supply across Europe.
The hope is renewables will also help reduce energy prices amid the current drastic, sustained increase, as well as helping the UK achieve its net zero goal by 2035.
The government’s targets include a focus on offshore wind power, aiming for  50GW of wind generation capacity by 2030 instead of the previously set 40GW.
With the current installed capacity for 2022 reported as being approximately 13GW, the targets provide an ambitious and rapid rise.
CfD AUCTION RESULTS
These targets have been set in motion after a recent round of UK contracts for difference (CfD) auctions, where almost 11GW of clean energy was secured. This is almost double any previous secured amounts.
The auctions were especially successful for offshore wind projects, which through achieving almost 7GW makes the 2030 target of 50GW much more achievable.
CAPACITY CONCERNS
Due to these plans focusing heavily on offshore wind which tends to have longer lead times, future capacity additions become difficult to address. This causes supply concerns for upcoming winter seasons.

There may need to be a delay in the planned closure of coal assets to prevent winter energy supplies from running low.
This, combined with the impact of wind power on the grid makes the future of these kind of renewables uncertain.
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