The UK will need to develop an effective energy storage incentive if it is going to rise to the challenge of decarbonising its electricity supply, according to the managing director of one of Britain’s emerging energy storage firms.

Speaking to Solar Business Focus UK for an upcoming feature on energy storage, Simon Daniel of Moixa Energy said: “The UK has to have a storage strategy, it is essential. If the UK is to hit the minister’s ambition of 20GW of solar by 2020 and also its target for wind, they can’t actually do that unless they have a proper storage strategy in place. Otherwise you will have with extreme intra-day volatility and you end up with a lot of wind curtailment and network upgrade issues – like Germany.”

According to Daniel the key to the success of storage in the UK lies at the edge of the grid. He explained that having distributed storage systems in consumers’ homes allows households to directly benefit from the system every day. In addition, smart technology could allow the network operators to have control over the batteries. Daniel explained: “Being at the edge is also a useful place for a network operator in order to mitigate various grid issues like excess solar, voltage drop, heat pumps or electric vehicles switching on. Also, storage units can be aggregated at the edge and treated like pumped hydro to do more heavy-lifting.

 “We want to put a battery in one in 10 UK homes within this decade in order to operate several GWh of resource, like a pumped hydro station but across people’s homes. To mitigate end-user solar network challenges and provide resilience to the system.”

Speaking at the Solar Trade Association’s Large Scale Solar in the UK: progress and future, Ben Cosh, managing director at TGC Renewables, agreed that storage was critical to the success of solar, especially in the UK.

Cosh noted that there were three key challenges facing solar that need to be overcome in order for the technology to claim that it is competitive at base load with traditional technologies.

Firstly, module and balance of system costs need to keep falling dramatically.

Secondly, daily storage needs to be able to move solar’s daytime generation to evening load. And thirdly, develop seasonal storage that is capable of shifting the excess summer generation that solar will produce for winter consumption.

Cosh sees the key to solar’s mainstream success in the UK as dependent on developing cost-effective storage technology that will help capture and deliver solar energy – because the technology’s generation curve does not match closely with the country’s consumption curve.

Asked if UK solar installers need to start contemplating offering some sort of storage solution, Daniel is certain in his response: “I think it’s essential, even to do some initial installs to get their mind around it.

“If in April the government announces an incentive then they will have to do it then – I don’t think government will be quite as fast as that but I think the beautiful thing about storage is that it hits each problem that DECC sees: from grid-balancing, to network operating, resilience, fuel poverty, to making LED energy efficiency work.

“Batteries are a tad expensive now but people still buy them on an emotive or resilience or smart of future benefit. If you do it on a pure payback then it’s not as good because it doesn't have a tariff in place. Nevertheless there is quite a strong market growing in the UK and unless solar installers start doing this soon then they will miss out when the tariff does fall into place – you need to be able to respond quite quickly to it.

“We’re quite optimistic on it although it is quite difficult in the short term to put a particular date where it becomes completely viable for that two million mass market but it will get there.”

The full interview with Simon Daniel can be found in the latest edition of Solar Business Focus UK.

Simon Daniel will be speaking on the subject distributed energy storage on Wednesday 5 March at Ecobuild