Battery storage and other forms of renewable energy including solar panels and wind turbines in the UK

Careers in the Energy Storage Industry

Energy storage involves the potential energy that can be used at a later stage. Popular examples of storage technology include batteries, pumped hydro, thermal and compression facilities. technologies. The rise of storage technology has led to a surge in new careers in energy storage.

Working as an Energy Storage Engineer

Energy Storage engineer is one of the most common job positions within the storage industry. Energy Storage Engineers generally support the management team and provide planning, product and technical support as well as supervision related to the EPC process of energy storage proejcts. Many energy storage engineers will work on specific project sites as well as within an office environment. Engineers will cover all health and safety, quality control, design reviews and preparing all budgets. Other duties include overall product development, construction management, commissioning, and general administration duties.

Technology in the energy storage market

Energy storage technology provides a wide range of options to control power supply and ultimately create a more stable energy infrastructure, as well massively reduce costs to both business and consumer. Globally, there are six main categories being developed within the energy storage market. 

  • Solid State Batteries – an variety of electrochemical storage options that includes chemical batteries and capacitors. 

  • Flow Batteries – This relates to where energy is stored directly within the electrolyte solution, providing a longer cycle and overall quicker response times. 

  • Flywheels – Flywheels refer to mechanical technology that captures rotational energy, providing instant electricity. 

  • Compressed Air Energy Storage – This refers to technology that captures compressed air, providing a potent energy reserve 

  • Thermal – Thermal storage captures both heat and cold for energy on demand 

  • Pumped Hydro-Power – creating large-scale reservoirs of energy with water 

Source: Energy Storage Association

The largest energy storage markets in the coming decade are expected to be China and India, supported by those countries’ ambitious renewable energy targets. Latin America is another attractive market for energy storage development, given the region’s renewable energy roll-out plans – particularly in Mexico, Chile, and Brazil. In South Africa, storage is expected to be driven by greater integration of renewables. In MENA, many countries are looking to deploy large amounts of renewable energy to reduce the amount of domestic fossil fuels used for local power generation – freeing up that fuel to be sold abroad, bringing in revenue for government programs.

The battery storage industry

Due to rapid growth in the consumer electronics market and rising demand for electric vehicles (EV’s), energy storage prices are dropping considerably quicker than experts forecast. Major businesses in Europe, North America and Asia are expanding their focus on lithium-ion manufacturing, resulting in a significant drop in battery device costs.

Storage is already playing a bigger part in energy markets, expanding beyond niche markets to larger conventional ones such as replacing power generators with reliable and efficient power services and integrating with renewable technology.

What is the main difference between a grid-connected battery and a ‘behind the meter’ battery?

A grid-connected battery refers to a battery that is connected directly to the grid system and generates its income specifically from generating grid services to the National Grid. A ‘behind the meter’ battery is connected to a private electrical system, generally in a factory. This option creates a grid service as a connected battery and can also support the occupier with load shifting, energy storage and peak shaving services. 

What are the key benefits of installing a battery storage system?

The economic benefits concern load shifting which allows a user to harness battery power during specific peak times as opposed to utilising expensive energy from grid systems. Businesses can decrease the peak load that it may draw from a supplier. The other key benefit is that battery storage systems can work effectively as storage systems for renewable energy generation. This energy can then be sold back to the grid or stored for future demand.

How much space is required for installing a battery?

Battery installations greatly vary, however, typically batteries up to 2 MW will occupy the footprint of a standard shipping container. The battery units can be placed in any location, provided they can be accessed for any maintenance.

What is an Aggregator and do I need to have one?

An aggregator is a system that supports the income from a battery through connecting with the National Grid’s markets or Grid Services to allow the battery to be used within a set of pre-defined parameters. Typically, battery installations that intend to create revenue from the National Grid will require an aggregator. 

How much maintenance do the batteries require?

As with any complex technology system, Batteries will require a level of maintenance to continue operating efficiently. Local battery suppliers can generally provide a team of engineers to offer this service, including monitoring to ensure any potential issues are recorded and handled effectively. 

How long does a battery last?

Many battery manufacturers will refer to a number of charges, discharges or cycles that a battery can perform and provide a percentage of energy capacity that will be retained after these cycles. Essentially a battery lifetime will depend on how it is used. For example ‘behind the meter batteries’ that are used for relatively low functions could have a lifespan that exceeds fifteen years. 

How can I connect battery storage to the infrastructure of a business?

Generally, the battery is connected to the primary distribution network to ensure the business system is working effectively. The batteries will generate a direct current (DC) which is passed through an inverter Connecting a battery to an organisation’s electrical infrastructure is done in the same way as typical businesses connect to a large solar PV system. The batteries deliver a direct current (DC) and this is passed through an inverter to create alternating current (AC) which is suitable for general use. In addition to the battery and inverters, developers will also install a G59 relay and cut-out to protect the site in the event of an electrical failure, in addition to a series of meters to ensure that the billing and flow of energy are understood. 

Transmission and Distribution

Transmission and Distribution industry is an essential mix of industries including the development of machinery, electric lines, transformers and line management systems i.e. smart grid technology. These systems manage the overall delivery of power to private and commercial users in a usable format, no matter what the source of energy generation is.

The Key Elements of the T&D Industry

The T&D industry provides equipment, services and production systems for the energy industry. The initial stage involves converting the power from a generation source such as wind or solar into a high voltage electrical source to be transport using the power grid. The second stage involves the ‘stepping down’ of high voltage power by using switch gears. The resulting medium voltage power can then be distributed safely to populated areas. The final stage then involves stepping the power source down further to a useable voltage of both residential and commercial customers.

The T&D industry is estimated to be valued at over $50 billion worldwide and can be segmented into four main areas:

Products: manufacturing high and medium voltage power and distribution transformers. This market is driven by ageing T&D infrastructure, overall load and general industrial growth.

Services: Supporting products and systems sold throughout its total life-cycle. The drivers for this segment are aging infrastructure, preventative maintenance and general outsourcing.

Systems: Research and development of turnkey substations, electronics for direct current substations and systems to increase grid capacity and quality. This fast growing market is primarily driven by an increased need for power electronics, network efficiency, reliability, and new sources for renewable energy.

Automation: Products to detect failures, ruptures and general protection arenas. This may also include systems for substation and energy management or for remote management for the power grid.

Source: Areva