UK Energy Storage needs defining says industry

The chief of the UK’s Electricity Storage Network (ESN) has this week called on the Government to clearly define the storage sector insisting the technologies are proven and the demand is evident.

Dr Jill Cainey, Director of the ESN, explained that the UK storage market is now coming to fruition with National Grid currently tendering 200MW and another 500MW expected to be requested later this year.

The storage industry is however being restricted by lack of clarity on its classification. Electricity storage is a game changer for the energy industry but UK Government must define it and deliver an appropriate regulatory framework.

At the end of last year, Amber Rudd, Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change said: “We are also looking at removing other regulations that are holding back smart solutions, such as demand side response and storage. I will shortly be launching a paper setting out some of the possibilities and we will consult formally in the spring to allow action in the autumn.”

Dr Jill Cainey, Director of the Electricity Storage Network said: “The technologies are proven and the value of storage has been demonstrated, with the appropriate market framework in place, storage could rapidly be deployed across Britain. Storage is now part of the energy debate and the ESN looks forward to hearing the Government’s plans for supporting the industry.”

A suite of utility scale storage projects are expected to come on stream across Britain this year including a 5MW/15MWh Liquid Air Energy Storage system funded by ‘Energy Storage Technology Demonstration Competition’, run by the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC).

The UK Government has committed more than £80 million of funding to support research and design in electricity storage programmes across the UK, including £30 million committed by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) to develop five academic centres across Britain.

The storage market is expected to undergo huge growth over the next few years with Research & Consulting firm Eunomia reporting market in the UK could deliver over 1.6GW of capacity by 2020. In October 2015, the Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne launched an independent National Infrastructure Commission (NIC), charged with offering unbiased analysis of the UK’s long-term infrastructure needs. The NIC has identified storage as a key solution for improving grid resilience and developing a low carbon electricity grid.

Electricity storage is now taking centre stage around the world as a key solution for balancing electricity networks. Entrepreneurs, Venture Capitalists, and multinational companies including General Electric, Bill Gates, Total and Tesla are now investing heavily in utility scale storage. With a suitable market framework, storage will help to unlock a greener economy and provide new revenues for UK plc.