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Back-up or Pack-up: how the storage revolution can help keep the lights on



Energy storage is becoming an increasingly important topic of discussion for the renewable sector. An energy storage revolution could completely change the energy industry. Dr Andrew Crossland, senior design engineer at Solarcentury, discusses renewable energy and storage below.

Energy storage is often cited as the missing link for renewables. Solar power plants can charge batteries in the day so that we have a supply of energy after dark. On the windiest days, wind turbines can use storage to hold the energy that we can use to power our homes on the stillest of cold winter days.

However, the reality is that storage remains prohibitively expensive- or so we are lead to believe. Is that true? I don’t think so. And nor is storage a one trick pony – it has the ability to completely revolutionise the world’s energy system – and to understand how, I need to recount the events that occurred on the day of my Grandad’s birthday party.

As we tucked into our roast dinner on party day in May this year, not just one but seven British power stations either broke down or became unavailable. This, together with inaccurate wind forecasts and a breakdown of a subsea connector to France, led to a massive shortfall in electricity. National Grid just didn’t have as much power as it expected.  In total, Britain unexpectedly lost around 1,800MW of supply (enough to boil 800,000 Tesco own-brand kettles). National Grid had to find emergency energy sources, so we could continue to enjoy our roast dinner without the lights going out. However, acquiring emergency energy did not come cheap: some power stations were reportedly charging 24x the normal rate –inflating our electricity bills.

So how can we keep the lights on without paying 24x the normal rate of electricity? The best way to keep prices steady is to have a readily available source of backup power which pays for itself by serving multiple functions in the power system. That’s where storage comes in. My proposition is that the same storage that is needed to enable more renewable generation in the electricity system can also be used as backup power, at a fixed and reasonable price.

As coal stations are phased out in many countries around the world (including the UK), we are becoming more reliant on gas power stations to provide the bulk of our electricity. (Biomass is also used to supply electricity to the grid.) These power stations provide reliable power – when they work. But when a big power station fails, the impacts are acute. Renewables are intermittent; however, the impact of a single wind farm failing is miniscule relative to a big power station coming offline.

Storage technology is the perfect partner in both situations: it overcomes the intermittency of renewables and is a vital source of backup power when big power stations go offline.


Storage in the UK

According to the Renewable Energy Association (REA), the UK has 22 large storage installations tied to the electricity system. This is a start, but there is some way to go until there is a sufficient amount of capacity to guard against power outages.

The Energy Storage Network (the industry body for storage) is calling for 2,000MW of new energy storage to be built by 2020. With this amount of backup, the UK could be more comprehensively protected from energy shortfalls which, besides being a massive headache for National Grid, hit consumers where it hurts the most: their wallets.  Storage is a money saver: the National Infrastructure Commission recently reported that a smarter energy system with more storage, flexible demand and power connectors to other countries could save the UK up to £8billon every year.

Innovation in storage

Storage technologies are evolving fast. This is driven in part by the need for batteries to power the various devices we now use in our everyday lives, such as phones, electric cars and laptops.

It’s exciting that some of the most innovative storage products are being developed in this country. Although the lithium battery is probably the most famous, flow batteries and thermal storage are hugely promising for some applications. The challenge now for the UK is to properly recognise the value of storage in helping to meet the government’s three core aims:  keeping the lights on, reducing our carbon footprint and keeping electricity prices low.

Grandad was born into a coal-centric world. Some 80 years later, the world is moving away from fossil fuels in favour of cleaner, more sustainable energy sources. Without more energy storage, a low carbon world cannot be realised. What is clear is that storage benefits more than the renewable transition – it also improves the reliability, affordability and flexibility of our existing electricity system. This means cleaner air, more consistent prices and more energy independence for the UK. Who wouldn’t want more storage, and who wouldn’t want more right now?


How to be More eco-Responsible in 2018



Shutterstock / By KENG MERRY Paper Art |

Nowadays, more and more people are talking about being more eco-responsible. There is a constant growth of information regarding the importance of being aware of ecological issues and the methods of using eco-friendly necessities on daily basis.

Have you been considering becoming more eco-responsible after the New Year? If so, here are some useful tips that could help you make the difference in the following year:

1. Energy – produce it, save it

If you’re building a house or planning to expand your living space, think before deciding on the final square footage. Maybe you don’t really need that much space. Unnecessary square footage will force you to spend more building materials, but it will also result in having to use extra heating, air-conditioning, and electricity in it.

It’s even better if you seek professional help to reduce energy consumption. An energy audit can provide you some great piece of advice on how to save on your energy bills.

While buying appliances such as a refrigerator or a dishwasher, make sure they have “Energy Star” label on, as it means they are energy-efficient.

energy efficient

Shutterstock Licensed Photo – By My Life Graphic

Regarding the production of energy, you can power your home with renewable energy. The most common way is to install rooftop solar panels. They can be used for producing electricity, as well as heat for the house. If powering the whole home is a big step for you, try with solar oven then – they trap the sunlight in order to heat food! Solar air conditioning is another interesting thing to try out – instead of providing you with heat, it cools your house!

2. Don’t be just another tourist

Think about the environment, as well your own enjoyment – try not to travel too far, as most forms of transport contribute to the climate change. Choose the most environmentally friendly means of transport that you can, as well as environmentally friendly accommodation. If you can go to a destination that is being recommended as an eco-travel destination – even better! Interesting countries such as Zambia, Vietnam or Nicaragua are among these destinations that are famous for its sustainability efforts.

3. Let your beauty be also eco-friendly


Shutterstock / By Khakimullin Aleksandr

We all want to look beautiful. Unfortunately, sometimes (or very often) it comes with a price. Cruelty-free cosmetics are making its way on the world market but be careful with the labels – just because it says a product hasn’t been tested on animals, it doesn’t  mean that some of the product’s ingredients haven’t been tested on some poor animal.

To be sure which companies definitely stay away from the cruel testing on animals, check PETA Bunny list of cosmetic companies just to make sure which ones are truly and completely cruelty-free.

It’s also important if a brand uses toxic ingredients. Brands such as Tata Harper Skincare or Dr Bronner’s use only organic ingredients and biodegradable packaging, as well as being cruelty-free. Of course, this list is longer, so you’ll have to do some online research.

4. Know thy recycling

People often make mistakes while wanting to do something good for the environment. For example, plastic grocery bags, take-out containers, paper coffee cups and shredded paper cannot be recycled in your curb for many reasons, so don’t throw them into recycling bins. The same applies to pizza boxes, household glass, ceramics, and pottery – whether they are contaminated by grease or difficult to recycle, they just can’t go through the usual recycling process.

People usually forget to do is to rinse plastic and metal containers – they always have some residue, so be thorough. Also, bottle caps are allowed, too, so don’t separate them from the bottles. However, yard waste isn’t recyclable, so any yard waste or junk you are unsure of – just contact rubbish removal services instead of piling it up in public containers or in your own yard.

5. Fashion can be both eco-friendly and cool

Believe it or not, there are actually places where you can buy clothes that are eco-friendly, sustainable, as well as ethical. And they look cool, too! Companies like Everlane are very transparent about where their clothes are manufactured and how the price is set. PACT is another great company that uses non-GMO, organic cotton and non-toxic dyes for their clothing, while simultaneously using renewable energy factories. Soko is a company that uses natural and recycled materials in making their clothes and jewelry.

All in all

The truth is – being eco-responsible can be done in many ways. There are tons of small things we could change when it comes to our habits that would make a positive influence on the environment. The point is to start doing research on things that can be done by every person and it can start with the only thing that person has the control of – their own household.

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Top 5 Changes You can Make in Your Life to Reduce Your Carbon Footprint




reduce carbon footprint
Saving money and reducing your carbon footprint? What isn’t to love? - Image from Shutterstock -

In a world, where war rages and global warming threatens our very existence, the inhabitants of earth need to be extra vigilant in their efforts to go green. This includes reducing your carbon footprint on the earth and leading a more sustainable life.

Many homeowners feel perplexed by all of the options available to reduce their carbon footprint. They may even feel (falsely) that making their household more green will fail to make that much of a difference in the fight to save our planet.

Even a single home going green has a massive impact on the environment. We can win this battle on home at a time. If you’re interested in accepting the challenge of making your household a green home, read on below for a few of the top changes you can make in your life to reduce your carbon footprint. We all stand to benefit from making the earth safer for future generations – and your wallet won’t complain when you start to see the savings in annual energy costs.

Switch From Dirty Energy to Clean Solar

The ION Solar reviews tell it all–solar is the best way to go. Whether your goal is to slash your energy bills, or to reduce your carbon footprint, the sun is a fantastic source of renewable energy.

It’s important to get past the hype from solar installers. Instead, listen to the plethora of impartial customer reviews that mention everything from a $20 energy bill, to the incredible feeling of knowing that you are doing your part by going green and minimizing harmful emissions in to our atmosphere.

The average investment is $15,000 to $30,000 for installation and purchase of solar panels. Optional battery power packs can help provide consistent power during both night and day. And many government agencies provide federal, state or local grants to help offset upfront investments in clean energy.

Depending on which installed you choose, your household may qualify for low-interest or zero interest loans to cover the up-front cost of your installation. And the loan payments are usually less than your current monthly power bill.

It really is a win-win, as home buyers are looking for homes that feature this technology – meaning solar power installation improves the resale value of your property.

Home Modifications

And there are a number of additional home modifications that can help improve the energy efficiency of your home. A programmable thermostat can better manage energy consumption from home cooling and heating systems while you’re away from home. And weather stripping your doors can help keep cool air in during the summer, and warm air in during the winter.

Of course, energy conservation starts at home. And this includes setting a powerful example for your kids. Teach your children how to close windows, strategically keep doors open or closed based on airflow, and encourage them to leave the thermostat alone – opting for adding or removing layers of clothing instead.

Unplug Appliances and Shut Off Electronics

Unplugging your appliances when they aren’t in use, such as the toaster and the coffee maker, has more of an impact than you might think. Set your TVs and stereos on sleep timers, instead of letting them run around the clock. The cumulative impact of wasteful electronic device usage is horrible for our environment – putting unnecessary strain on our electrical grid.


One of the simplest and easiest ways to reduce your carbon footprint is by recycling. You are already throwing this stuff away anyway, right? It doesn’t take much more effort to just put recyclables in a separate container to be recycled, now does it?

Oh, and did I mention that you can earn money for recycling? Yes! Many cities and towns have recycling centers that will purchase your clean plastic and glass bottles for reuse.

Minimize Your Water Usage

Water is one of the easiest things to forget about when it comes to reducing your carbon footprint. Preserve water by turning off the faucet while brushing your teeth. Shorten your shower by a few minutes and turn down the heat on that water heater. You’ll be surprised at how much lower your water bill and your energy bill will be.

Saving money and reducing your carbon footprint? What isn’t to love?

These are just a few of the top ways that you can reduce your carbon footprint and start living a greener lifestyle. And we aren’t factoring in all of the advantages that we’ll reap from public investments in a smarter energy grid.

From decreasing your water usage, to switching to solar for your home’s energy needs, you will feel good at the end of the day knowing you are doing your part to save the future of this planet for generations to come!

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