Here comes the Sun

EIC explores the benefits and future of on-site solar generation for businesses, how COVID-19 has highlighted and bolstered the strengths of solar power and how EIC can help businesses engage with the technology.

The wild blue yonder

Lockdown, while effective, has been a source of ongoing financial and emotional strain for many in the UK and businesses are no exception. However, there have been a number of benefits to this economic slowing that perhaps are going overlooked.

Chiefly, air pollution, in proportion with industrial energy demand, has dropped significantly. Combined with the severe oversupply of Oil and faltering resilience of fossil fuels generally, this has given solar generation the opportunity to enjoy a moment in the sun. 

However, solar is not a recent arrival to the energy scene, existing theoretically since at least 1839 thanks to French scientist Edmund Bacquerel. Bacquerel’s work was groundbreaking because it was the first time that solid material with no moving parts had been used to convert sunlight directly into electrical energy.

A guiding light

Since 1839, we’ve come a long way and furthest perhaps in the last five years, during which time the costs of solar have halved while storage options have improved consistently with the introduction of graphene and vanadium technology.

The conditions of lockdown have demonstrated that renewable energy sources are likely to be the most resilient to the supply chain disruptions that a major crisis can create. 

In fact, EU solar generation jumped by 28% year-on-year, between March 28th and April 26th of this year compared to 2019, breaking generation records while doing so. 

Energy security is a basic necessity for the survival of any business and, as such, will be a subject of great scrutiny throughout lockdown and in its aftermath. Novel technologies like on-site generation will become more attractive, not only for their resilience but for the savings that their flexibility offers. 

The use of on-site photovoltaics can also improve a company’s carbon profile while providing a measure of protection against supply failure. 

EIC manages around 12TWH each year and with over 40 years industry experience, we are able to create bespoke energy solutions for your needs. We can help you engage with on-site generation, saving you as much as 20% on your energy usage or 40% when combined with on-site battery storage. Better still, in times of plenty, you’ll be able to sell excess energy back to the grid and further offset energy costs. 

Our solutions page contains full details of our on-site generation and storage offerings, as well as further information on the compliance service we provide that can be bolstered by such technology.

 

The role of renewables this winter

The increase in wind and solar capacity in recent years has contributed to the overall reduction in demand. Higher volumes of on-site renewable capacity allow more generation to be provided off-grid, as homes and businesses generate their own electricity supply during windy or sunny spells.

This reduces demand on the national transmission system. The high levels of solar availability during the summer season were a particularly strong influence on demand levels this year, as on-site solar panels increased embedded generation, reducing demand requirements for the transmission network.

During stormy weather conditions, installed wind capacity can now provide around 12GW of electricity to the grid. Average wind generation in the UK last month was 5.3GW a day; over 50% higher than in September 2017.

 

average wind

 

What happens when there’s no wind?

While high winds can reduce power demand, one of the biggest dangers to the National Grid electricity network is a high-demand scenario at a time when wind output is very low. Lighting has a bigger impact on electricity demand than heating, as the majority of home heating is gas-fired.

However, during severe cold periods, electricity demand does spike as additional electric heating is needed to cope with the very low temperatures. This scenario occurred during March as a result of the Beast from the East, when peak demand jumped around 10% as temperatures dropped. The cold snap also brought very high winds to the UK. Wind output at the time topped 10GW, which provided high levels of low-cost electricity to the grid. However, this renewable supply may not be available during another cold spell.

National Grid’s Winter Outlook report forecasts an electricity margin this winter of 7GW, while also expecting 7GW of wind output during the peak winter. Find out more here.

 

How could this impact energy bills?

Supply margins would be placed under significantly more stress during a similar cold snap this winter, if wind output was low or non-existent. This would require another 10GW of supply being provided by gas and coal plant or imports. Such a scenario is likely to require significant price rises in the Within-day and Day-ahead markets.

 

Renewable energy solutions with EIC

If you’re interested in generating energy from your own renewables sources we can support your business to implement solar at your site.

A cost-effective and sustainable energy source, generating power from solar panels will cut your emissions, help the environment, and can be linked with a battery storage solution to maximise ROI. With our support you can install a battery solution as part of your wider energy strategy. Batteries can work in tandem with renewable energy sources such as solar or wind and can help you generate additional revenue via potentially lucrative demand side response (DSR) schemes.

To find out more, call us on 01527 511 757 or email info@eic.co.uk.