By Rory Stewart, Product Manager, Arenko
The global energy industry is going through the largest change since the industrial revolution. A move from large, centralised power stations driven by fossil fuels to smaller distributed, predominantly renewable, energy sources is driving a fundamental change in how we operate and build our energy systems.
The E-World 2023 event in Essen, Germany, took a deep dive into some of the latest trends driving the future of energy in Europe. Here’s my take on the hot topics of the show:
1. Battery Energy Storage Systems (BESS)
There was strong interest in battery energy storage systems, particularly co-located sites. Attendees were impressed to hear about Arenko’s work optimising Vattenfall’s first co-located battery at the 228MW Pen y Cymoedd Wind Farm in South Wales. Arenko is currently working on optimising a second co-located 20MW/45.5MWh battery asset with Vattenfall, which is set to be energised later this year in Northumberland, North East England.
It’s clear that a number of businesses are trying to break into the European market, which, so far, has been less developed than the UK battery market. Currently, only Germany truly compares to the UK, but other countries are catching up fast.
2. Managing Power Purchase Agreements (PPAs) with flexibility
There were great discussions on power purchase agreements (PPAs). PPAs are contracts between a generator and a consumer that agree to a fixed price for electricity over a certain period of time. This can be a great way for consumers to lock in a competitive price for their electricity, and guarantee that they are using renewable energy. This is an exciting prospect for the industry as partnering with a PPA site and then trading the battery when it’s not being used could be an important future revenue stream and one that is made possible through intelligent control software like Arenko’s Nimbus software. This is a deep, mature and global market and highlights how the flexibility of BESS can be used to generate revenue in all sorts of different ways.
Finally, hydrogen was a major theme discussed as part of the future energy mix, dominating much of the event’s floor space. Hydrogen is a fuel vector that has the potential to play a major role in the future of energy. However, it is highly controversial as, for many use cases, there is a very low efficiency between making the hydrogen (generated from electrolysis, using electricity) to end point use in many cases using a fuel cell to convert back to electricity. The key is to use hydrogen where appropriate, for example, in heavy industry where there is consensus that hydrogen use is a total no-brainer. The Arenko view is that hydrogen WILL play a part in the future energy system but current interest level is somewhat over-hyped due to lobbying by the molecular storage incumbents which is totally to be expected. Considered analysis of hydrogen solutions against the alternative options will keep us on track. To be clear if hydrogen IS adopted for energy storage Arenko will happily control it.
What did I take away from E-World? There are a number of exciting challenges and opportunities ahead for the energy industry. Innovation and collaboration will accelerate the energy transition in Europe and I am excited by Arenko’s product offering, which offers flexible solutions to customers to keep up with their increasingly complex needs. I am feeling inspired and more motivated than ever to continue our work to help to create a net zero grid worldwide.