Thursday, 19 February 2015

Tesla’s plans for distributed electricity storage is a good sign for Community Energy

Elon Musk, CEO of Tesla Motors has recently announced plans to produce small scale lithium-ion batteries suitable for installation in homes or businesses. The introduction of such local level electricity storage would allow communities to store any excess energy they produce, which can then be released at times of peak demand. This US announcement follows recent UK Feed in Tariff generation statistics, which show a 29% increase in total Feed in Tariff installations, from December 2013 to December 2014. The UK total number of Feed in Tariff installations is currently 646, 281.

The combination of distributed generation and storage would be of huge benefit to community energy projects, as they could become increasingly separate from the grid. By independently balancing demand and generation communities would be able to set their own prices and local generation would stay local.

Monday, 9 February 2015

The next monster child of the Welfare State?

At the Community Energy Markets Conference the other week, several delegates picked up on Professor Furong Li’s remark that future energy markets are likely to offer tiered prices reflecting tiers of quality of supply. For example, a price for locally generated electricity may be low, but the reliability of generation will be low as well. Conversely, we may have to get used to paying a premium for the security of supply that our national generation, transmission and distribution systems offer. 
The idea leads to a view of a future where high quality energy supply becomes the preserve of the wealthy, and where poor folk have to make do with unreliable supply. 
Let me turn that round and use it to reflect the present situation: in our supply network we have an essentially socialist institution, delivering quality of energy supply to everybody, regardless of their wealth. Even the hard-up person on a prepayment meter gets top quality supply when they pay for it.
We’re used to the National Health Service being the ravenous beast that threatens to consume all of our taxes. Post Carbon, will the National Electricity Service be the next cash-hungry monster to come after us?