UK energy regulator Ofgem has just unveiled proposals for when people start to recharge electric cars en masse.
Flexible charging and off-peak use will enable the grid to handle any upsurge in demand without the need for new power stations or expensive infrastructure, said the UK regulator.
Through flexible charging, some 60% more vehicles might be charged.
If nothing else, it highlights how stretched the grid is likely to be by the mass adoption of electric vehicles.
“Nuclear and coal-fired power stations are being de-commissioned and government, industry and the utilities face serious challenges over peak demand and how to manage a complex energy infrastructure with a significant renewable element.”
Energy storage through batteries will have a key role in meeting these challenges, he adds.
One of the already acknowledged problems with renewable energy is matching demand and supply.
Matching supply and demand
Wind and solar only generate electricity when conditions are right and marrying those with times of peak demand has been a tough nut to crack.
Industrial scale batteries can solve this problem, says O’Cinneide.
The technology has come on in leaps and bounds in recent years, helped in no small measure by the work of electric car maker Tesla.
Gore Street’s portfolio currently consists of two assets - Bridgend in Wales, which uses a Tesla battery, and the Boulby mine in Yorkshire where NEC, one of Gore Street’s major backers, has supplied the unit.
Combined, the two sites have the capacity of 10Mw, but the plan is to increase the portfolio size to 45Mw over the remainder of the year.
That would be sufficient to lift the projected dividend from 4p in the current year to 7p.
It’s a punchy dividend target, but O’Cinneide believes Gore Street can produce higher returns than a standard renewable investment.
The target of a 12% return is achievable through the greater flexibility of batteries, he says.
A solar/wind group in the UK is basically selling electricity and receiving a revenue stream.
Multiple revenue streams
Batteries though can provide different revenue streams - such as intervention, peak pricing and storage - all of which are critical to the grid and can boost the fund’s returns.
“It makes for a diversified revenue base – or better quality of earnings as different things add to the mix.”
Gore Street specialises in lithium-ion batteries and chooses substantial suppliers with deep pockets such as Tesla, Nippon Koei and NEC.
“Lithium-ion has been around a long time and has very low technological risk, while customers also come with low counterparty risk.”
O’Cinneide is convinced energy storage is a compelling story, but so far, the market seems to want more hard evidence.
When it floated in May, the original plan was to raise £100mln but eventually, this was scaled back to £30.6mln.
O’Cinneide says the newness of the theme was a factor - Gore Street is possibly the first listed energy storage fund in the world and certainly the only one in London – but he remains undeterred.
The plan now is to invest what’s left of the float money and come back again for more once the concept has clearly been demonstrated.
“This is not a just a renewable energy story but an energy story full stop.”
Shares are 99.8p, valuing the group at £30.5mln.