Investment in renewable energy schemes is tracking the government’s Net Zero commitments, but the emergence of hybrid systems combining solar, wind and battery storage is now accelerating demand for specialist grid connection engineering services.
Government statistics issued in December 2020 shows that renewables generation accounted for 40.2 per cent of electricity total generation in Q3 last year, a significant increase on the 8.2 per cent in the same quarter 10 years ago.
Energy Assets Utilities, an accredited electricity network Independent Connection Provider (ICP), has been tracking this growing trend and has established a dedicated design and engineering team to provide the technical expertise that supports the market movement towards larger schemes that can connect to 132kV networks.
“Historically, renewable investment focused on relatively small-scale single technology schemes, such as solar arrays on farmland as part of a diversification strategy, but today developers and investors are thinking on a much grander scale,” says Mike Ash, Business Development Manager at Energy Assets Utilities.
“As a result of a relaxation in planning regulations, coupled with advances in battery storage and demand from DNOs for embedded generation schemes that can connect to their 132kV networks, heavyweight companies are dialling up interest.”
Indeed, the march of technological progress means that renewable schemes are becoming ever more complex, often involving combinations of wind, solar, biomass waste-to-energy and even gas peaking plants paired with battery storage, as operators look for optimal system flexibility to ensure the rapid release of energy at times of high grid demand.
This direction of travel means more complex engineering problems to solve, but EAU has captured a sizeable share of the renewables connections market – working with two of the largest embedded generation developers – thanks to its specialist design capability and network connection experience.
“Driving this market is government policy around climate change and the move to greater electrification,” says Mike. “Renewables will play an even bigger role in the future in helping the UK meet these twin demands as we seek to decarbonise the economy and move away from fossil fuels. This direction of travel, coupled with the relaxation of planning laws, is driving increasing investor enthusiasm for large scale multi-technology schemes that can deliver strong financial returns as demand grows for sustainable energy on the road to Net Zero.”
Aside from EAU’s connections expertise, the company designs and builds ‘Balance of Plant’ infrastructure and manages client applications for grid capacity with DNOs. Project management includes cable installation and jointing, transformer and substation installation, testing and commissioning.
Mike Ash is Business Development Manager for Energy Assets Utilities and has worked in the utility industry for the last 20 years in management and sales in facilities, utilities surveying, ICP and IDNO markets. He heads up EAU’s embedded generation programme.