Energy storage capacity booms as renewables growth stalls

4th May 2017

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  • Conventional



Commercial battery capacity could rise by as much as 100 times existing levels by 2020 as independent energy operators shift their focus from renewables to storage, new analysis says.

SmartestEnergy, which supplies energy sourced from independent renewable generators, assessed contract wins under the government’s capacity market, which ensures there is enough electricity to meet peak winter demand.

Independent developers secured 407MW of the battery contracts available, with just 105MW awarded to the ‘Big 6’ utility companies, according to a report of its findings. Independents also secured more than half the contracts to provide enhanced frequency response (EFR) to stabilise the grid – 110MW out of 201MW.

Just 20MW of commercial batteries were operating in 2016, but 31 projects have now secured long-term contracts in the capacity and EFR markets to provide 578MW of capacity by 2020. In all, plans over the next four years for 153 projects, with a combined capacity of 2.3GW, have been announced, which would see UK battery capacity increase by more than 100 times, SmartestEnergy said.

Source: SmartestEnergy

Meanwhile, growth in independent renewable generation has flatlined since subsidies were cut by the government. On average, 275 independent projects were completed each quarter since 2013. But the number fell to 38 between October to December 2016, and to 21 between January to March 2017.

SmartestEnergy called on the government to allow renewables and storage to compete on a level playing field with fossil fuels, and to recognise this in its industrial strategy. Currently, solar power projects are ineligible for the capacity market, while short-term grid service contracts disadvantage new battery projects when they compete against existing fossil fuel plants, it said.

Iain Robertson, vice-president of renewables at SmartestEnergy, said: ‘Independent developers still have renewable project pipelines and are looking at innovative ways to build without subsidy. They are now also driving forward the battery revolution.

‘Energy entrepreneurs have demonstrated that they can build clean, renewable generation at scale, quickly and cost-effectively. To put their achievements in context, Hinkley Point C, which will power six million homes, is expected to cost £18 billion and take ten years to build.’


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