Friday, 29 January 2016

Help save electricity storage from its transgender problem

A campaign is being launched to get the UK Government to legislate to set up a special license for electricity storage facilities. - A license to store! At the moment the fast-developing battery storage industry, which can help power the renewable energy revolution, is being stymied by regulatory confusion. Establishing a license for storage would set up storage as a distinctive technology where that can be assigned its own place in the system alongside generation and consumption.

The problem is that storage sometimes supplies energy, but it also consumes energy to charge the batteries. As a result storage operators are double charged for taxes when they consume and supply the energy, and uncertainty reigns about how much they should be charged to connect to, and use, the electricity distribution network.

So please try and write to your MP to support efforts to license storage of electricity.

Of course the grid can 'balance' a lot more renewable energy than is being generated at the moment without much difficulty, but the point is that storage offers an increasingly cheap method of balancing the grid for whatever purpose (including managing variable renewables of course). But the system is regulated for generation or consumption, leaving storage in a sort of transgender 'limbo'.

Now, supporters of electricity storage, including the Electricity Storage Network, want the Government to solve the problem. Otherwise companies and investors will be put off investing in storage projects because of the higher charges and uncertainty that surrounds the 'gender' identity of storage.

The occasion for this particular policy debate is the issue of whether distribution network operators (DNOs) who run the local electricity systems can be allowed to install storage systems. That is whether they should be allowed licenses for storage projects over 10 MW (under 10 MW is not regulated). As the cost of storage declines so the number of circumstances where the storage could be positioned to avoid grid upgrades such as new transformers, increases. In fact storage can serve a number of functions - it is also being installed with some renewable energy projects to avoid grid upgrades and help balance the output of the projects.

Of course it is good to see schemes like Elon Musk's home battery systems getting coverage and people buying the batteries - but research indicates that setting up storage on the distribution system is more cost-effective. If storage is built on the local electricity systems ('feeders')then the storage units  can make use of electricity supplies on the local system as a whole, when they are in excess, to store for leaner times.  Home storage systems used in conjunction with solar pv sets are limited to storing the solar output from the homes themselves. Moreover storage based on the local system can also provide other services - in particular reduce the need for peak generating capacity by offering 'frequency response' services and also at peak times in the year (Triads). The storage facilities will earn money from these services.

So we need to give greater possibilities for DNOs and others to set up storage systems. Of course we don't want to give DNOs an unfair competitive advantage over the independent companies wanting to set up storage systems - the DNOs should compete on an even playing field with the rest - but the point of setting up a license is to force the issue of clearing the regulatory confusion surrounding storage.
See the text of an amendment put together by Alan Whitehead MP to the Govenrment's current Energy Bill to try and get a license for storage:

1 comment:

  1. Found it: