UK distribution network operators: frantic energy storage activity

Adriana Laguna-Estopier, low carbon technologies manager at UK Power Networks, a distributor network operator (DNO), told the Westminster Energy, Environment and Transport Forum (WEETF) on the next steps for renewable energy in the UK that energy storage and the utilization of EVs in the country are projected to boom in the coming years.

Specifically on storage, Laguna told the conference that UK Power Networks has received 13 GW of energy storage connection applications, up from zero just a year ago. Of this, the company has so far accepted 100 MW of proposals.

Earlier in May, Western Power Distribution (WPD), another British DNO, said the company has already accepted 1.13 GW of battery storage capacity to connect in its network and offered a further 1.1 GW to other applications. The total number of applications that WPD has received is even higher.

According to WPD, the country has already started experiencing the first wave of energy storage investment, mainly through the capacity market auction in December 2016, the transmission operator’s enhanced frequency response tender held last summer, a first number of projects co-locating with renewables plants, and of course so-called ‘behind the meter’ projects concerning storage on the consumption side of the UK households and businesses. This first wave of activity is focusing on grid services, said the WPD.

After the early 2020s, adds WPD, a second wave of storage investment will follow, concerning mainly co-location business models to begin with, and expanding via other business models later. WPD’s comments were included in a consultation that the DNO published in May, aiming to confirm or correct its assumptions on flexibility services via energy storage. The consultation will close on 21st June and can be downloaded via this link.

Laguna told the WEETF seminar that UK Power Networks will also tender 10 sites for various flexibility services that will surely include energy storage projects. She said the tender will be published in the summer, but didn’t want to provide further details. The first option for the company, Laguna concluded, is to have the market deliver the storage projects and the DNO procuring the services that these projects provide. The UK has seven DNOs in total.

pv magazine has expanded on the business models for energy storage employed in the UK currently and although the UK’s energy sector is eagerly anticipating the government’s response on the recent call for evidence (CfE), the latter is not in hurry. A degree of policy clarity is anticipated after the national elections on 8th June.