Anglian Water to boost onsite generation with AI-powered energy storage technology
Water utility Anglian Water is set to install an energy storage machine controlled by Artificial Intelligence (AI) technology at one of its water treatment facilities, in a move it claims will increase the site's solar generation by 80%.
The 60kW/300kWh storage device, designed by energy storage firm redT, will be set up at the company’s ‘pathfinder’ site in Norfolk to bolster the performance of its existing photovoltaic (PV) array from 248kWp to 450kWp.
The machine, which can store enough energy to power the facility for at least five hours, will enable Anglian Water to store surplus power generated by the array for use within its own operations. Meanwhile, it will use AI software to provide real-time balancing and energy flexibility services. The machine is expected to have a lifespan of 25 years.
Called Dynamic Demand 2.0 and designed by Open Energi, the AI software will optimise the site’s energy consumption and stack multiple demand-side value streams, enabling Anglian Water to take advantage of wholesale energy price arbitrage. In total, the installation is expected to halve the site’s electricity bills by 2050.
Anglian Water’s director of alliances and integrated supply chain, David Hill, said the project will be “ground-breaking” in the sense that it “integrates, rather than simply co-locates, storage and solar”.
“Using redT’s flexible energy storage infrastructure alongside Open Energi’s smart software will allow us to unlock more solar power, as well as allowing us to participate in grid services to further reduce our energy bills,” Hill said.
“Most importantly, this collaborative project will provide us with invaluable insight to support our future energy strategy, as one of the largest energy ‘prosumers’ in the East of England. The approach will enable us to develop future-proof solutions for managing energy more flexibly and efficiently, whilst increasing resilience.”
It comes as Anglian Water strives to meet its headline sustainability target of becoming a carbon-neutral business by 2050. The utility is set to install solar arrays totalling more than 30MWp over the next 18 months as it progresses towards this aim – a move it claims will reduce its carbon emissions by 15,000 tonnes annually. The arrays, which will boost Anglian Water’s renewable generation capacity by 25%, are expected to deliver more than £1m of savings annually for the firm.
The global energy storage market looks to mirror the rapid growth the solar industry experienced between 2000 and 2015, with a recent Bloomberg New Energy Finance (Bloomberg NEF) report predicting that the energy storage market will double six times by 2030.
The report estimates that more than $100bn will be invested in storage technology globally during the next 15 years as the world’s renewable generation capacity climbs.
In the UK specifically, new energy storage installations are expected to help create savings to the tune of £8bn by 2030. As for the private sector, companies including Landsec and Marks & Spencer (M&S) have moved to explore how the technology could complement renewable generations across their estates.
However, with the storage technology sector still in its infancy and given the current cost of storage solutions, energy experts have concluded the business case for investing in storage solutions has not yet been fully formed.
Similarly, one other recent study found that the intermittency of wind and solar energy will create wildly varying outputs from renewable energy generation in the UK by 2040, and that battery storage is not well suited to providing back-up across weeks and months.
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