Clarification on what ‘storage’ means is key to utility firms embracing energy storage and helping to plug the UK’s predicted electricity gap.
The issue’s relevance comes after an Institute of Mechanical Engineers report predicted an electricity supply gap of up to 55% by 2025 amid the UK Government’s policy to close coal-fired power stations and retire nuclear plants.
The call for a regulatory definition of storage was made during the UK Electricity Storage Network’s annual open symposium on January 27th.
Confusion rests on whether storage is defined as ‘generation’ or ‘distribution’, something that currently leads to ‘double charging’ on consumption taxes.
To stop ‘double charging’ a change in code in needed, which in turn requires a clear definition on what storage is, said Jill Cainey, Director of Electricity Storage Network.
The Department for Energy and Climate Change (DECC) will be conducting a ‘Call for Evidence’ in Spring to garner the industry’s views. It plans to provide a response to this in the autumn.
Cainey said: “What’s critical about the gap is the evening peak, which is always trying to meet what is essentially four to six hours of higher demand, and so that’s something electricity storage or a range of technologies could provide.”
Whether batteries alone can fill the ‘energy gap’ is a question of debate, with heat and cold storage among the suggestions put forward during the symposium.
Sally Fenton, from the innovation team of DECC, said cost effective energy storage could play a key role in addressing all the aspects of the energy trilema: sustainability, security of supply and affordability.
Another issue is the location of the storage and how it is generated,
Especially as excess energy put onto the grid, from residential ESS for example, would cause issues in maintaining the grid frequency at 60hz.
The UK is set to add 1GW of new energy storage capacity by the year 2020, according to IHS forecasts.
The primary driver behind this expansion will be the renewable energy industry in combination with home solar installers, the launch of a frequency regulation tender, and more money for energy storage research, said IHS.