The UK Breaks Up BEIS
The British government has broken up BEIS (Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy), separating out a Department for Energy Security and Net Zero. This will be exceedingly positive if it has a strategic and whole-system approach, and doesn’t lose months during the re-structure, as it will give a dedicated cabinet seat, budget and focus to these departments; however it may reduce the energy transition’s focus on developing British technologies.
There will also be a separate Department for Science, Innovation and Technology. It is hoped that his doesn’t de-prioritise the use of science, innovation and technology resources from energy transition technologies, and that it won’t reverse the very welcome recent move (still in early stages) towards funding first-of-a-kind commercial plants.
China sees CAES as Crucial to the Energy Transition
Picking up from our report in our October newsletter last year, China is progressing very fast on a national roll-out of CAES, mostly adiabatic, having identified it as a necessary cornerstone of their energy transition. And that’s despite having technology that is significantly inferior. “At least nine CAES plants have commenced construction or operations with a total capacity of 682.5 MW. … China’s CAES capacity will reach 6.76 GW in 2025 and 43.15 GW in 2030.” The UK and Europe have the opportunity to lead in this field with our substantially better technology; our financiers, location-owners, governments, grid operators and regulators should not waste that opportunity.
Fallacy Exposed, of Relying on Interconnectors
Now even Norway, the so-called “battery of Europe”, is planning to cut their interconnectors in times of need. In December we reported on similar actions (not just intent) taken by France and Germany. This exposes the fallacy of BEIS’, Ofgem’s and National Grid’s mantra that we can always rely on imports through interconnectors during times of system stress: we cannot. The only way to ensure we keep the lights on is to invest in suitable amounts of large-scale long-duration electricity storage (the amount is easy to calculate), of which ours is head-and-shoulders better than all others. The amounts of storage are massive, in both electricity and hydrogen, but seasonal storage may not be required – that question is still open.
The UK Wastes 1.35TWh in 4 Months
A new analysis has shown that 1.35TWh electricity was curtailed in Oct 2022 to Jan 2023. And that ignores all the additional costs of ramping balancing services up and down, and all the related stability and operability services. And the excess costs (now £3bn/GW) of reinforcing the onshore grid to accept offshore wind. Oh for sufficient large-scale, long-duration, naturally inertial storage, of which ours is head-and-shoulders the best!
Batteries Aren’t the Solution
We have been saying for many years how batteries are inefficient and inadequate as solutions for the energy transition. Now we have been made aware of tests by PNNL (Pacific Northwest National Laboratory in America) which provides data to back up those statements about day 1 efficiency being much lower than claimed. And additional to the low day 1 efficiency, we ned to consider that most of the inefficiencies cited are tripled over the battery’s life, and also that naturally inertial storage can concurrently deliver a range of services that would require 4-6 same-sized batteries – including services that the batteries can’t deliver at all.
This month we share an interview Mark did on the energy transition and its progress, especially with respect to electricity and hydrogen.