UK energy storage needs defining, says industry

At the ESN Annual Meeting yesterday, Dr Jill Cainey, Director of the Electricity Storage Network, 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. However, she believes that the UK Government must define it and deliver an appropriate regulatory framework. 

Cainey 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”.

ESN claims that a suite of utility scale storage projects are expected to manifest 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; Research & consulting firm Eunomia has reported that the UK market could deliver over 1.6GW of capacity by 2020.  Additionally, 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, claims ESN. The company claims that 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, the company believes storage will help to unlock a greener economy and provide new revenues for UK plc. 

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