Know How: Turning energy storage into profit

by Georgina Dingley

Georgina Dingley

Georgina Dingley of AMT-SYBEX explains how smart management of energy storage can unlock new revenue streams.

In the past two or three years, large-scale energy storage has evolved from a pipedream into a practical option. Several organisations have already started building energy storage facilities, and many – including distribution network operators (DNOs), renewable energy companies and others in the utilities industries – can now see the potential.

However, building the facility is only the first step: ensuring that it makes a profit is just as much of a challenge. Calculating the most cost-effective time to charge the batteries and the most profitable route to sell the services that energy storage can provide across a range of options is a complex problem, with dozens of factors to take into consideration, such as:

  • What can my network connection accommodate and when?
  • How much availability will critical functions need in the next week, and how much of the remaining capacity can we confidently optimise?
  • Will we get the best price from selling capacity to the ancillary services market, or on the wholesale market, or to an aggregator or a DNO?
  • How much energy do we need for each service and when?
  • How much will the energy cost for each service when we want it available?
  • When is the right moment to agree services when all the timelines are different?

The optimal answers to these questions can change rapidly as demand patterns and energy prices fluctuate. As a result, it can be difficult to make the right decisions without expert knowledge of every aspect of the industry. And many organisations see this need for specialist expertise as a major barrier to investing in energy storage.

The good news is that there is another way. Instead of dedicating highly skilled experts from every part of the energy system to work on the problem, you can use an intelligent IT system to forecast, optimise and set the schedule for the energy storage asset, communicate with your partners and manage your connection. This system can predict needs in advance (e.g. for peak shaving), monitor prices, identify the best options, and set schedules to charge and discharge your storage infrastructure at the most cost effective times.

By applying a sophisticated set of business rules and constraints to real-time market data, this approach eliminates the need for heavily detailed manual analysis of thousands of combinations, and presents a set of options that helps you to prioritise revenue streams quickly and easily.
The ability to continuously analyse and choose between a range of different revenue streams also reduces risk. Even if the market shifts unexpectedly or your first-choice revenue stream becomes unavailable, you always have a “plan B”.

The key to success in deploying a system of this kind is to find a partner that can provide both the technology and the proven expertise to help you operate an energy storage system profitably.

As energy storage technology matures, many software vendors are entering the market with offerings that can help with forecasting, optimisation or scheduling. However, very few vendors can currently offer a comprehensive solution that provides all these functionalities in a single package – and even fewer can claim to have any real-world experience of delivering energy storage projects.

AMT-SYBEX’s work on pioneering projects such as UK Power Networks’ Smarter Network Storage (SNS) project makes us one of a handful of organisations that can genuinely offer this combination of technical assets and domain experience. Our Networkflow FOSS product (Forecasting, Optimisation and Scheduling System) is deployed as part of SNS and is the only system of its kind proven in a UK deployment.

If you are interested in the potential of energy storage to unlock new revenue streams for your business, we would love to help you explore the possibilities and show you what FOSS solution has to offer.

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