I've just sent this email to Ofgem
I would like to open a discussion on the merits of distributed, small scale electricity storage, and its capacity to help grid balancing operations.
I am a retired medical practitioner, innovator, and an environmentalist with an interest in the expansion of renewable energy sources.
The National Grid will face increasing problems with balancing supply and demand as more renewables come onto the grid, with the intermittency characteristics of wind, wave and PV creating a need for large storage capacity.
There are of course a few sites with large scale pumped storage, and large scale flexible demand operations are in use.
My proposal is that plans should be made for use of multiple, micro-storage units, typically domestic, to assist in balancing operations.
Please note that the proposal is for a partial, auxiliary storage capacity, as it would be unrealistic to suggest that it should act as a full full storage facility. Large scale storage capacity will be needed in the future.
I have discussed my proposal with an officer in the National Grid. He saw no technical objection to this proposal, but the idea of micro-storage was unfamiliar to him, since the Grid prefers to operate using large scale processes. He therefore suggested that I should discuss the proposal with your good selves.
As an enthusiastic early adopter of 3.4KW installed PV capacity, I am contemplating the installation of a bank of batteries to enable me to cruise through the blackouts - some four per year - that we get up here on Mendip.
I could also adapt my Honda Insight hybrid to connect to the house system.
Therefore I could offer a small potential for electricity storage. In future, there may be tens of thousands of householders in the same position.
Now, when there is oversupply in the grid, frequency goes up, and vice versa. Domestic storage systems could detect these fluctuations, store electrical power in the batteries when the grid frequency rises, and deliver power back to the grid when frequency goes down.
One single contribution would be insignificant, but if the technology were spread out among thousands of households, it would become significant.
As you know, there is increasing interest in electrical vehicles, with technical and design improvements occurring week by week. It is likely that there will be a rising demand for electrical vehicles, especially as their usefulness as second vehicles used for short local trips becomes more well understood, as well as the price advantage of their fuel compared to petrol and diesel.
The outlook for electrical vehicles (EVs) is positive:
The report "Electric Vehicle Forecasts, Players, Opportunities 2005-2015" reveals that the EV industry is large and prosperous with $31.1 billion sales globally in 2005 at ex factory prices excluding electric toys. It is growing strongly and, by 2015, the EV market will have grown to 7.3 times its value in 2005. However, much of this growth will not derive from today's technologies or take place within today's leading applicational sectors.
To be honest, the market in EVs has proved sensitive to recession, not least because of their high cost due to their novelty, but we live in hope that the present recession will not last forever, and indeed an increasing number of voices are suggesting that it will be the green sector of the economy will be the engine that powers us out of the recession.
Therefore, it is to be expected that a widespread battery storage resource is about to become available.
Roll-out of distributed micro storage from the point of view of the Grid will no doubt take two or three years, by which time the recession should be over, and sales of EVs will be picking up. The UK electricity supply industry should therefore position itself to take advantage of this new wave. In taking advantage of this storage capacity, Ofgem and the Grid will also be providing a stimulus for more widespread purchase of EVs - a fine example of technological and market symbiosis.
I hope that I have explained clearly what it is that I am suggesting.
In essence, it is that a source of aggregate supply and demand is likely to present itself in the next few years. By going out to meet this resource, Ofgem be taking part in an elegant win-win situation for both suppliers and consumers.
I understand that as a relatively novel idea there will be a host of questions arising, and I am ready to come to answer these directly.
I would be very grateful to receive your response.
With best wishes for a sustainable, secure supply of electricity for the UK.
Dr Richard Lawson