UK ministers passed secondary legislation that will increase battery storage by five times the size of the existing limit. The legislation was passed on July 14 and it will increase storage capacity for projects above 50MW in the UK and 350MW in Wales.
According to the Department of Business, Energy, and Industrial Strategy (BEIS), the new law could lead to a threefold increase in the number of battery storage projects. The hope is that eliminating the limits will encourage investment, which will lead to more batteries to help stabilize the grid. It is especially so as the number of intermittent renewable energy projects grow.
The Minister Speaks on the Issue
According to Kwasi Kwarteng, the UK Minister for Energy and Clean Growth, the move was crucial to the capturing of the full potential of renewable energy. He noted that it would ensure businesses and homes would still be powered by green power even when the sun was out or the wind was not blowing. Kwarteng added that removing barriers in the planning system would help the UK to build bigger and more powerful batteries. As a result, it would create more green energy jobs and a smarter grid.
COVID19 Lockdown Raises Need for Flexibility
Since the COVID19 lockdown, the demand for power has fallen by about 20%. As a result, National Grid ESO has developed tools to increase grid flexibility. According to Kayte O’Neill, National Grid ESO head of market, as more sources of renewable power general more of the UK’s power; they were changing how they run the grid.
She noted that storage would help the UK get the most out of green power. They would use it to manage peaks and dips in demand and operate the grid as efficiently as possible while keeping costs low for consumers.
The Current Storage Sector in the UK
According to BEIS, there is 4GW of power storage in planning in the UK and it could collectively power 6 million homes. There is already 1GW of storage that is in operation. According to Rebecca Williams, the director of policy and regulation at RenewableUK, battery storage in the UK was growing quite fast. The growth included large scale projects at solar and wind farms, which are increasing flexibility by building battery storage on site. She added that it helps to stabilize the grid, ensuring the security of supply for power consumers.
She added that there were currently over 580 projects in the UK. They included operational, under construction, or in development projects. The total capacity of these projects is over 17GW. Just five years ago, there were only 14 projects with a total capacity of 2.7GW.
Moved Lauded by the Storage Sector
Players in the storage sector have welcomed the move. Many feel it could be a big step in recognizing the role storage plays in the transition to net-zero carbon emissions. With the 50MW cap lifted, it could only be a short while before a 500MW storage project is built.
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