Three large-scale solar farms developed in the U.K. by Anesco under the Renewable Obligation Certificate (ROC) scheme have been granted permission to receive ROCs for the electricity supplied to onsite batteries – a first for the U.K.
Energy regulator Ofgem’s decision to make ROCs available to co-located solar+storage plants could be a game-changer for the British energy storage sector, believes Anesco, and could trigger a rush among solar plant owners to install storage capacity at their solar farms that already receive the ROC.
Three Anesco solar farms located in Northampton, Chesterfield and Stratford-upon-Avon – each 5 MW in size and supported by a 1.1 MWh battery – have been granted Ofgem approval to continue to receive ROCs for electricity exported to the grid, plus – crucially – that which is stored in the batteries and released at peak times to help stabilize the grid.
Anesco’s executive chairman Steve Shine said that the company cannot publish its methodology, but confirmed that it will be speaking to its investors to offer the chance to add battery capability at all of its existing solar sites – 101 in total.
“Ofgem will be issuing guidance to the industry on how this can work,” Shine said. “We have long seen the opportunity that energy storage presents, installing the U.K.’s first utility scale unit back in 2014. Since then we have been working hard to ensure it’s a commercially-viable proposition and we’re delighted to be first to step up and make it work with ROC sites.“
Ofgem’s head of renewables Luke Hargreaves added: “Battery storage can assist with system balancing and save consumers money by matching supply and demand. It has the potential to play an important role as the U.K. makes the transition to a low carbon, smarter and more flexible energy system.
“Last month Ofgem published its joint plan with the government on smart systems and flexibility, covering storage. We plan to publish guidance on the arrangements for storage under the ROC and FIT schemes later this year and will be seeking stakeholder feedback. The recent decisions demonstrate that, where the necessary criteria are met, co-location of storage facilities at accredited renewable installations is possible under the current legislative framework.”
Anesco has an installed portfolio of 28 storage sites across the U.K., comprising a total of 29 MW of storage capacity.
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The crucial question here is whether the ROC’s are granted for just the solar derived energy stored and then later exported to the grid, or whether, on days with little sun, will ROC’s be granted for energy imported from the grid, preferably when the wholesale price is low, and then exported back to the grid, preferably when the price is high. If it is possible to obtain both the arbitrage differential and the ROC’s this will completely change the economics of battery storage.
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