Thursday, 26 January 2017

Time of use tariffs bring domestic storage one step closer to economic viability

Thus far, domestic energy storage has been a cool thing with which to impress your mates, and lately it’s been about the cheapest way to get anything with a Tesla logo on it. But it’s been a long way from being the sort of economic no-brainer that’ll secure an enduring mass market.
Last week brought news that nudged the storage proposition a bit nearer to critical mass. The Greengage has reported that Green Energy UK has released UK’s first domestic time-of-use electricity tariff. A time-of-use tariff is in itself not such an exciting thing. It relies on human demand response to price, and nobody has yet been able to demonstrate substantial and enduring changes to mass market consumer behaviour in response to electricity pricing. 
But by introducing a little information technology, domestic electricity storage can exploit time-of-day electricity pricing to optimize energy costs for the consumer’s benefit: storing electricity when it’s cheap and releasing it when it’s expensive. It’s not a trivial job, because you have to consider, as well as the prices, the losses from storing and releasing energy, the losses from self-discharge, and the cost of storage cycles (which in turn depends on the depth of cycle).msm.png
But it can be done! Swanbarton's Micro Storage Manager device integrates domestic and small business storage with time-varying tariffs, dispatch services and other non-traditional trading models. It understands the capabilities and state of the energy store, and it calculates, in real time, a regimen of storing and releasing energy that’s optimized for the consumer’s benefit.
Here’s how the Micro Storage Manager engages, over a weekday, with Green Energy UK’s new tariff, with a store rated at 5 kWh and 1 kW charging/discharging:
The store fills up in the dead of night when the price is low, and releases energy throughout the evening price peak, and some more at the start of the morning’s raised price. The consumer benefits at a rate of about 86p per day (47p on weekend days), or a total of £274 per annum. In itself, that’s not enough to justify the cost of the storage, but it’s a significant increment to the present business case. 
Domestic storage is only going to become economically robust if it can exploit every possible benefit: self-consumption, dispatch services, energy security and price arbitrage. Devices like Swanbarton’s Micro Storage Manager will be the key to that sort of multi-modal operation.

Wednesday, 25 March 2015

Pre-press: "Local energy markets to sustain distribution network storage"

Here's the title and abstract from a paper of mine which the Institution of Civil Engineers is about to publish in its journal Proceedings of the ICE - Energy.

Local energy markets to sustain distribution network storage
Energy storage in distribution networks as a means of enabling distributed renewable generation has been widely discussed. However, little attention has been given to how such storage may be made economically viable. Present energy market models are inimical to deployment of storage in the network. As an alternative, this paper introduces the mechanics of local energy markets in which energy prices are set freely between participants, in real time. It reports modelling, simulation and laboratory trial of such markets. It shows that a local energy market can enable financial return for energy storage when deployed as a commercial instrument. It incidentally demonstrates that where a local energy market coincides with a low-voltage feeder, commercial storage management tends to reduce peak flows at the constrained interface between the low-voltage feeder and the distribution network. Increased densities of distributed generation are, therefore, made possible. Trading intervention by network operators may influence storage behaviour in ways that reduce the peak flows further.

If you have $40 to spare, you can buy a pre-press copy here.

Friday, 26 September 2014

Community Energy? Communist Energy? Does DECC know the difference?

The UK Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change, the Rt Hon Edward Davey MP (Lib Dem), spoke words of encouragement to local authorities and community energy groups on 4th September 2014. The largest part of his short speech was a catalogue of ‘pioneering examples’ for community energy, each of which had found a different way to achieve collective ownership of energy production resources. He went on to say that his department DECC was about to release £10M through an Urban Community Energy Fund, which again encourages community ownership of renewable generation plant. He closed with a ‘clear and unambiguous message that people can come together… and can take control.’
Collective ownership of the means of energy production has a distinguished history: it was proposed by Vladmir Lenin, enforced by Josef Stalin and implemented through the National Coal Board and the CEGB. Some readers may be concerned about the direction that Mr Davey’s thoughts appear to be taking.

Friday, 11 April 2014

Guest blogger 'Nic Newey writes: Will Paym make fraping look like a childish game?

Many of us will have done it: it’s your round at the pub and you’re all out of cash! Surreptitiously, you have a quiet chat with your closest, or richest, buddy and ask for a loan. Embarrassed and in debt, you then have to fix the problem. Tomorrow, the day after, Monday, when?

Sunday, 8 September 2013

TOGAF++ principle 24: the strength of the monolithic

I’ve commented before on the charmingly Utopian architectural principles that The Open Group Architecture Framework (TOGAF) suggests.

For most of my systems design career, I’ve been taught that it’s a bad thing to lump lots of different functions together into one indivisible monolith of code: that it’s a good thing to separate each useful function into a distinct unit that can be re-used for new purposes: and that those functional units should have explicit interfaces that don’t couple them together permanently in a set pattern. These ideas are the essence of the Composite/Structured Design thinking that Yourdon & Coad promoted in the 1980s. They are the foundation of the Service Oriented Architecture that Microsoft and IBM promoted in the 2000s. They appear so obviously to be true that for twenty-five years I believed them.