The United Kingdom currently has 3.23 GW worth of energy storage operational, with at least another 453 MW planned or in development, according to new figures published by the UK’s Renewable Energy Association.
A new report published this week by the Renewable Energy Association (REA) highlights the new figures, which confirms a total of 3.23 GW of energy storage projects currently operational, including 35 standalone grid-scale storage projects and at least 1,500 residential storage projects.
In addition, there is at least 453 MW worth of new energy storage projects, made up primarily of battery storage projects, currently planned or in development in addition to the 200 MW of “enhanced frequency response” projects that were recently contracted by the country’s National Grid. Industry experts similarly point to this recent auction as an indication of the growing maturity of the UK’s energy storage industry, considering that another 1.2 GW of capacity had been bid into the auction process, but did not win a contract.
“Storage is already a reality for the UK and right now there’s an opportunity to cement us as a global centre for investment, deployment, and research,” said James Court, Head of Policy & External Affairs at the Renewable Energy Association. “Many technologies have advanced quickly and are now commercial, as such the storage industry is not seeking a direct subsidy.
“Storage is a critical technology for the decentralisation of the UK’s energy system and will support long-term renewables deployment. Policy is the single greatest barrier to the industry’s growth and reform is needed.”
The report, Energy Storage in the UK: An Overview, highlights the important role energy storage is likely to have in a world ever-more reliant upon and willing to install renewable energy. “Storage technologies are able to absorb and release energy when required and provide ancillary power services which help benefit the power system,” the authors of the report explain. “The storage industry can therefore deliver tremendous benefits for system stability and security of supply as well as helping to decarbonise UK energy supplies.”
Beyond the role that energy storage is likely to have in tandem with increasing levels of renewable energy — mitigating some, if not all of the generation variability inherent in renewable energy technologies such as wind and solar — the report also highlights the “significant economic” benefits energy storage is able to provide. Specifically, the report’s authors explain that if 2 GW more energy storage is deployed by 2020 the industry would create jobs for up to 10,000 people in the UK, while a National Infrastructure Commission Report projected a possible £8 billion saving to the UK, per year, by 2030 if storage and flexibility measures are introduced on a large-scale basis.
“The REA sees energy storage as a key missing piece of the UK’s energy policy,” the authors noted. “Storage can help deliver the low carbon energy the country needs and it is therefore vitally important that it is appropriately incentivised and supported.”
“Energy storage has great potential in the UK, and can unlock billions worth of savings according to the Government’s advisers,” added Frank Gordon, Senior Policy Analyst at the Renewable Energy Association. “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. We are also seeking an end to double charging of grid fees and consistent treatment when connecting to the grid, changes we have been calling for since our first Energy Storage Overview report in 2015.”
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