December News: Blackouts Warned and New Green H2 Regulation

National Grid warns repeatedly of blackouts

National Grid is repeatedly warning of blackouts due to electricity shortages, for example in October 18th and November 22nd. In December, emergency back-up plans were put into action, where they plan to pay people to switch off to address the challenge. A well-run grid should provide the power needed, when needed, with minimal user awareness.

So what happened? In short, the UK can’t import during our times of need. And that’s novel to National Grid? We’ve been telling them since 2016 that they wouldn’t be able to in future years, and proved it to them in 2018. It was proven when gas shortages led Germany to turn off its gas interconnectors (they now flow into Germany) and maintenance at French nuclear power stations reversed the flow of electricity in their interconnectors, and future flows are at risk.

The only solution is sufficient large-scale, long-duration storage — of which ours is head-and-shoulders better than all others. Accelerating the roll-out of renewable generation and the hydrogen economy meet the challenges only with sufficient such storage.

Draft European Green Hydrogen Regulations

Leaked draft European green hydrogen regulations stipulate that, for hydrogen to be termed green, from 2027 it will have to be produced by renewable energy as measured on an hourly basis. This does not allow statistical balancing of high- and low-generation periods, i.e. it cannot use fossil-fuelled electricity to electrolyse during low-renewables periods, with that “borrowed” energy being “repaid” by over-generation at high-renewables times.

By extension, the same would apply to other processes such as the production of ammonia, methanol, iron and steel. And all these plants thrive on near-baseload electricity: intermittency reduces their efficiency and plant life, and requires much larger plants to be built per unit output.

Only connecting renewables through sufficient large-scale long-duration electricity storage like ours would enable truly green hydrogen, ammonia, methanol, iron, steel etc. as described in this article on our hydrogen and integrated solutions. And 2027 fits in with our lead times, as long as work is started soon.

BEIS Hydrogen Strategy Update

BEIS (the British energy ministry) has published its Hydrogen Strategy Update. In it the ministry outlines their many actions and related strategies, which are good as far as they go: basing funding on “calls” only works if you have a project that meets strict definitions AND coincides with the timescales — better to have funding open at any time to applications that meet broad objectives.

Quite rightly, the strategy focuses concurrently on hydrogen production, storage, networks and use: all are needed for progress to be made. Storelectric capabilities improve directly its production, storage and (in our synergies with major consuming industries) use, and indirectly its transportation and networks — so addressing the whole agenda.

IEA Breakthrough Agenda Report 2022

The International Energy Agency’s Breakthrough Agenda Report 2022 has a number of notable features, including:

  • Electricity rising from 20% of world energy consumption to 26-30% by 2030.
  • Renewables share of generation doubling from 28% to 61-65%, in parallel to that increase, i.e. total renewable generation increasing by 2.8-3.5X.
  • “Governments will need to scale-up the deployment of mid- and long-term energy storage options”, for which many new developments (such as implementation of ours) is needed.
  • “Renewable and low-carbon hydrogen need to replace existing fossil fuel-based hydrogen, and is set to play a vital role in supporting a rapid clean energy transition, primarily in hard-to-abate applications where there are limited alternative clean energy solutions, such as heavy industry, maritime shipping, aviation, seasonal electricity storage, and potentially segments of heavy-duty trucking” (which we can support).
  • “Governments and companies should work together to dramatically increase the number and geographical distribution of hydrogen demonstration projects and to ensure that these appropriately cover each of the high-value end-use sectors, including maritime shipping, heavy industry, and long-duration energy storage.”

Storelectric can make all of these more cost-effective and efficient.

Review of the Year

It’s been a really momentous year for both Storelectric and the market. Storelectric has:

  • Recruited a very high-powered group of advisors, and strengthened its team with excellent people (not all featured on our website) — the team is really humming now;
  • Entered into exclusive negotiations on one site, well progressed in two more, with another 4-5 following behind, all in the UK, with international interest and opportunities too;
  • Entered partnerships with Emerald and with Durham University;
  • Raised almost £2m and continue to raise money faster than we’re spending it — and we’re still looking for eight or nine figure funding to support our roll-out: we’re almost unique in being a real-world business (as opposed to virtual) with multi-unicorn potential;
  • Developed our capabilities to really integrate our electricity storage and hydrogen technologies in the renewable energy and Net Zero industry markets;
  • Increased our profile in the market, both nationally and internationally;
  • Become go-to authorities for a number of conferences and news outlets.

In the markets,

  • China has proved the need for adiabatic CAES within a renewable energy system, opening a new plant in May and with a programme for at least seven to eight more — despite having a technology that is much dearer and less efficient than ours (see our October newsletter);
  • Other competitors’ technologies are similarly inferior to and more expensive than ours, and ours, as it uses readily available equipment, can be made at a much greater range of sizes and operating pressures — this last opening up a much broader range of locations;
  • Advances in the hydrogen agenda are magnifying the need for our systems integration and massive-scale storage, the only cost-effective way of storing such large volumes currently;
  • Ministries, regulators and grids are looking longer-term and thinking more broadly about the energy system — though there’s still a long way to go on both (see our July and September newsletters);
  • Putin (with gas) and France (with nuclear) have proved what we’ve been saying since 2016: no country can rely on imports for its needs, as no grid operator will ever tell their government that a city’s blackout was because they were exporting the energy needed — the only sustainable solution is sufficient storage of both electricity and hydrogen;
  • The UK has been flirting with blackouts for months, despite powering up our coal-fired power stations, due to lack of sufficient long-duration storage;
  • Due to the lack of sufficient large-scale, long-duration, naturally-inertial storage, the non-energy costs of the electricity grid were over £8bn more last year than just 3 years before, and rising exponentially, split roughly:
    • ¼ for energy balancing costs,
    • ¼ for grid operability, stability, reliability, resilience etc, and
    • ½ for reinforcing the grid;
  • Analysts realised that Europe needs 600GW storage by 2050 — we beg to differ, that’s much less than the true need which is also increased by the demands of green electrolysis. You can work out how to calculate the need for storage in any market here.
  • Europe’s RePowerEU Plan requires a massive roll-out of both hydrogen and electricity storage, at the scale we can provide.

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