The first battery was invented well over 200 years ago in 1800 by Italian scientist, Alessandro Volta. It’s fair to say they have come a long way since then, and have played an important role to date in modern society. While the history of batteries is an interesting one, their future potential is far more exciting.
Their future is particularly exciting for the role they will play in helping the UK reach its net zero target and facilitating the rollout of renewables and also many sectors and businesses decarbonise their operations. However, as a decarbonisation pathway for businesses in the warehouse and logistics sector, battery storage might not be the panacea some might think.
For businesses in the sector looking to decarbonise, installing an intelligent energy management system, combined with an on-site energy generation solution such as a solar-PV array could hold the key.
A typical large UK warehouse, with a 19,000 square meter roof, has the potential to provide 2,900,000 kWh of clean energy per year through solar PV, however, the typical energy demand for such a facility is just over ten per cent of this, at 300,000 kWh.
With a relatively low energy demand compared to some businesses, there is not necessarily the need to install battery storage, as the energy generated from oversizing solar would ultimately go unused. Due to the relatively expensive Capex for a battery, it is still difficult to get a business case to stack up for many businesses in the warehouse sector. However, battery technology continues to develop and other longer term batteries continue to be developed such as Vandium Flow or Liquid Air there should be a positive future for batteries in the warehouse sector in future years.
For businesses that manufacture goods, or have critical infrastructure a battery solution would work well, especially if it experiences issues such as ‘brownouts’ – a drop in voltage often caused by excessive energy demand.
To effectively manage energy usage in large buildings like warehouses, it is crucial to have a clear understanding of when and how energy is being consumed. One cost-effective solution is to install automatic monitoring and targeting (AM&T) systems, which provide valuable data for driving efficiency. Additionally, HVAC systems typically account for up to 60% of energy consumption in commercial buildings. By installing or optimising Building Management Systems (BMS), significant carbon and monetary savings can be achieved.
Intelligent energy management systems ensure a building is using energy as efficiently as it can be. This can be as simple as automatically turning off lights and closing doors in rooms that are empty, or controlling heating and hot-water to ensure it is optimised to it’s full potential.
YLEM Energy has installed AM&T systems and BMS for a number of businesses in different sectors across the UK, and each time the results are the same. At Scapa Group PLC for example, we upgraded their BMS system for various production lines, warehousing and office space. In under a year, Scapa saw a 43% baseload reduction in electricity consumption and a 24% reduction in their gas consumption. These energy efficiency measure alone helped to reduce their carbon emission by 338 tonnes per annum.
With businesses in the warehouse and logistics sector looking to automate through robot pickers, or charging their ever-growing fleet of EVs, on-site generation and an intelligent energy management system could hold the key to reaching net-zero.
While battery storage solutions certainly have a place in the UK’s journey to net-zero, for those in the warehouse and logistics sector, other technologies may prove more immediate benefit
At YLEM Energy, we’re technology agnostic and recognise that each business is different. We offer the right solution for the business.