Engineering & Technology (E&T) Magazine: Is Off Grid Electric The Future Of Power Generation?

We speak to the influential E&T magazine about whether businesses should put power generation into their own hands by embracing off grid electric and battery storage.

Maintaining the balance between the increasing demand for electricity and a limited supply is a tricky conundrum. With the National Grid under pressure, demand side response (DSR) is a growing force in offsetting the UK’s power requirements.

engineering & technology (E&T) magazine logoIndeed, government ministers claim consumers could save £500 million a year if DSR is grown by just 5%.

While a joint research from industry body the Renewable Energy Association and the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Energy Storage argued that the amount of power stored in batteries could top 8 GW by 2021. With the right policy backing, that figure could even hit 12 GW.

However, for mission-critical facilities such as data centres, DSR uptake has been limited. The potential rewards for participation aren’t seen to be worth the hassle.

In environments where 100% uptime is the overriding priority, why add an unnecessary layer of risk? Or why hand control over energy to an outside party such as the National Grid or a DSR aggregator?

tree with the sun setting behind it. abstract image representing renewable energy
POWERING CHANGE: A combination of onsite generation, renewable sources, and battery storage is set to transform our electricity network in the coming years

In this exclusive article with Engineering & Technology magazine, Riello UPS’s Technical Services Manager Jason Yates outlines a more radical approach. With advances in lithium-ion battery technology, why rely on the National Grid at all?

He tells the influential publication, which is sent to all members of the Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET), that advances in lithium-ion (Li-ion) battery technology opens up the possibility for businesses to generation off grid electric instead of relying on the mains supply.

Quote from Riello UPS's Jason Yates outlining why off grid electricity is an option for businesses
GOING OFF GRID: Should businesses ditch the National Grid and go ‘behind the meter’?

How Can Businesses Go Off Grid And Generate Their Own Electricity?

To many, “going off grid” equates to a quirky lifestyle choice made by environmentalists and people wanting to escape the modern world. But in a commercial environment, it is a way for businesses to take control of their energy needs.

Combining on-site renewable energy technologies such as solar or wind power with large-scale battery storage, it frees firms from the grips of National Grid supply. In fact, the rise of Li-ion batteries even enables a UPS to become a generator and storer of green energy too.

And because of the advantages of Li-ion compared to sealed lead-acid batteries, there’s still sufficient autonomy for emergency backup.

What Are The Advantages Of Off Grid Electric?

Going ‘behind the meter’ protects against unpredictable wholesale energy prices. It also reduces the risk of damaging mains power disruptions. Utilising renewable energy helps cut carbon emissions and potentially energy bills. While going off grid can also ensure companies are future-proofed against new environmental rules and regulations.

As Jason explains, in practical terms going off grid is only practical for facilities with substantial energy use. In reality, that means annual electric bills of £500,000 to £1 million or more.

According to market analysts Cornwall Insights, there are 8,000 UK organisations which currently seven-figure-plus energy costs. That’s plenty of facilities with the scope to ditch the National Grid.

And with the cost of large-scale lithium-ion battery systems likely to fall further in coming years, off grid electric generation will become more accessible in a wide variety of sectors.

Read the full article in the latest edition of E&T Magazine