REA outlines energy storage deployment and potential in the UK

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Energy storage is taking off in a big way in various energy markets around the world, and an updated report from the U.K.’s REA shows that it is firmly established in the country, while new policy frameworks could elevate it to the next level. It is a critical technology that, if embraced, will make a transition to renewable energies, especially solar PV, smoother and sustainable.

The second edition of REA’s ‘Energy Storage in the U.K. – An Overview’ report pinpointed all of the utility-scale standalone energy storage project currently operational, of which there are 35. Additionally, it stated that, as of August 2016, there have been at least 1,500 residential storage units deployed across the country. All in all, this combines to create 3.23 GW of energy storage projects now operational throughout the country.

More encouraging still are that there is at least 453 MW of storage projects planned or in development within the U.K., with a further 200 MW contracted by the National Grid as part of the “enhanced frequency response” tender.

“Storage is already a reality for the U.K. and right now there’s an opportunity to cement us as a global center for investment, deployment, and research,” commented Head of Policy and External Affairs at REA. “Many technologies have advanced quickly and are now commercial, as such the storage industry is not seeking a direct subsidy.”

While the deployment and planned deployment is very real, there could be so much more in the pipeline if policy frameworks were introduced that unlock the potential of the market. The report points to 1.2 GW of extra storage capacity that was entered into the “enhanced frequency response” auction, but was not awarded.

“Energy storage has great potential in the U.K., and can unlock billions of savings according to the Government’s advisers,” said REA Senior Policy Analyst Frank Gordon. “Our research indicates that there are multiple gigawatts of capacity that are being proposed or are ready to be developed, but a joined-up and supportive policy structure is critically needed.

“We need more action to unlock the opportunities and the Government’s awaited Call for Evidence should address crucial issues such as a definition for energy storage in legislation or the grid codes,” Gordon continued.

The report predicted that energy storage technology will have a large role to play in the U.K.’s future energy system. This is not new news, as storage is a vital component for the adoption of a reliable clean energy system, one that focuses on flexibility and decentralization.