Energy storage comes of age for farmers

Energy storage is being rolled out in the renewable energy sector, meaning farmers can save money by storing energy for use at peak times, when it’s most expensive to purchase, as well as maximise profitability when selling power to the grid.

“Energy Storage is coming of age,” said Nina Skorupska CBE, chief executive for the Renewable Energy Association (REA), speaking at The Energy Now expo in Telford, on February 8 and 9.

“Depending on the business model, investing in storage could be making farmers money in the next three to eight years,” she added.

Peter Robinson, senior energy specialist, Carter Jonas, said that farmers only need one or two acres to have a commercial scale storage facility on-site. “It doesn’t need to be on good quality land, it can be on a brownfield site or scrubland.”

Also speaking at the event was Ray Noble, senior advisor for solar and storage at the REA. He said that storage can not only save farmers money on their own energy use, but it also presents a lucrative opportunity for those exporting to the grid. “All capacity can be put into battery storage and be sold to the grid at an appropriate time, at certain times of the day it can make up to six times more than other times.”

He explained that when ground mounted solar, on-shore wind and storage come together in two to three years-time, they will provide the lowest cost energy available. “Ground mounted solar is the cheapest to install and when working in tandem with a storage facility, it could lead to self-sufficiency in terms of electricity. Solar will become even more important in the near future,” added Ray.

“The dash for cash is over,” said Welsh hill farmer and renewable energy engineer from Westflight, Chris Brooks. “Solar’s most viable if you have a large on-site consumption. We’re now adding in battery storage at the farm in order to cover the night time hours and even without subsidy, this will pay,” he added.

Energy storage is a hot topic at the moment, but farmers still want to find out more, so much so that the dedicated storage sessions at the Energy Now Expo were so packed that the walls had to be taken down to let more people in.

Event director, David Jacobmeyer said he was very pleased with the turnout of the annual show, and that while many subsidies had been cut, the event welcomed a record high of 3246 visitors over the two days, highlighting that there’s still huge demand for renewables.

Energy storage was hugely popular with numerous farmers attending specially to hear about it. If you think about a solar scheme on a dairy farm, a lot of power is being produced while farmers aren’t using it, during the day when they might be working elsewhere in between milking sessions.

“If they can generate it during the day and use it when needed it’s going to solve a lot of problems for them,” added David.

Energy storage was just one of many exciting topics of interest brought up at the event, conference sessions were put on for every different type of renewable energy. The impact of Brexit on the renewables sector as well as the continued development of the sector in a low or post-subsidy world where discussed in depth throughout the show.

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