Energy storage on the farm – A viable opportunity?


There is widespread belief among renewables industry experts that this is a pivotal year for energy storage, following the turbulence of the past year. Julie Liddle assesses the current market conditions driving the push towards energy storage and how farmers may take advantage.

Lower prices equal greater opportunities

As the cost of energy storage equipment continues to fall, farmers are well positioned to reap the benefits of decentralised energy systems through large battery storage facilities known as ‘Embedded Energy’. These are on-farm facilities where energy can be stored and exported to the grid.

The potential for farmers to be at the forefront of a battery technology revolution is good on the basis that farmland has the space requirements, and by definition, is usually out of the way visually of the urban area that requires it most. A good connection to the grid is the main criteria.

A fresh study by KPMG and the Renewable Energy Association (REA) suggests these equipment cost reductions means storage is becoming increasingly viable as a commercial option.

Getting the regulatory systems up and running

However, the use of batteries for storage is still a new concept in energy management and development can only proceed when the financial and regulatory frameworks are in place. Banks and other fund providers are still becoming acquainted with the technology, while on the legislative side, the government is also attempting to keep pace.

For example, the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) is working alongside regulator Ofgem to produce a clearer definition of energy storage, and this should gain momentum with the announcement of a consultation, with findings expected in the autumn.

Lessons we can learn from other countries

The renewable energy sector was certainly impacted by the government’s announcement of a substantial reduction in subsidies. Nonetheless, evidence from other countries suggests that cuts to incentives are not an insurmountable obstacle to growth.

For example, a reduction in feed-in tariffs in Germany resulted in a fall-off in the volume of solar installations, yet the number of systems being installed with energy storage is increasing. Similarly, in Australia financial support has been reduced, but there is still a significant drive towards storing what you generate.

Bright future predicted for energy storage

This note of optimism was underlined when Stephen Jones, of The Energy Storage Network, said recently that he believes the technology is in place for storage to offer enormous opportunities across all types of renewable energy.

For further advice on renewables and farm diversification, or any other rural land and property matter, call Julie on 01768 254 354.