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MPs urged to unlock electricity storage potential

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Engineers have called for a removal of barriers to unlock the potential of energy storage in the UK.

The Institution of Civil Engineers said this could be done through exemption from balancing charges, reclassification of licences and modification of Feed in Tariffs.

University of Oxford deputy director of energy research Philipp Grünewald – and co-author of ICE’s recent ‘Electricity Storage: Realising the Potential’ report – told MPs that electricity storage should be part of a “systems” approach to Britain’s energy infrastructure, where different parts of the network work together to deliver secure, affordable and low carbon energy.

But he added: “Outdated regulation and lack of market signals are hampering innovative solutions”.

Grünewald, who acts as the ICE’s electricity expert, was giving evidence to the Energy and Climate Change Select Committee on the benefits of applying electricity storage to the electricity grid, as means of decarbonising the UK’s network infrastructure.

His evidence followed the ICE’s response to the National Infrastructure Commission consultation on electricity interconnection and storage earlier this week.

Grünewald told MPs that electricity storage could help to balance the transmission system by providing an efficient means of absorbing large amounts of power when there is excess on the system to be released at times of peak demand - moving electricity from when it is generated to when it is needed. Grunewald also explained that take-up of storage technologies would enable renewables to be dispatched more flexibly and to respond quickly to sudden changes in electricity demand.

He proposed a change to the Feed-in-Tariff regime - which subsidises renewable electricity generators - to incentivise storage.

“Photovoltaic electricity is currently exported into the grid regardless of whether the electricity is needed at the time,” he said.

“A tariff that rewards export at times when electricity is most valuable to the system will send the right market signal to encourage uptake of storage and reduce the cost of balancing the system.”

 

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