Grid plans ‘would boost storage sector’

Proposals unveiled by National Grid to reform the balancing services market would trigger the rapid development of energy storage, according to the Renewable Energy Association (REA).

The grid operator has launched a consultation on plans to rationalise the number of “products” used to balance supply and demand and then standardise the remaining products.

In its “Future of Balancing Services” report, National Grid also proposes to introduce a frequency response product that would for the first time place a value on inertia, which experts cite as a key component to running the grid effectively.

Frank Gordon, Policy Manager at the Renewable Energy Association, said: “Our members will welcome the move to simplify what is currently a complex hodgepodge of incentives built up over many years.

“These technical system ‘products’ don’t seem revolutionary or sexy but their reform is a business-critical activity if we are to accommodate new flexibility, electric vehicle, and energy storage technologies.”

Government paper

A report issued last year by the UK’s National Infrastructure Commission estimated that increasing energy storage, demand side response and interconnectivity could save consumers more than £8 billion a year by 2030.

Lawrence Slade, chief executive of Energy UK, added: “We welcome National Grid’s commitment to simplification and transparency, and recommend that future price controls are tailored to ensure innovation and competition are encouraged, not stifled.

“These principles should be at the heart of the government’s anticipated Smart System paper, setting the direction of policy for a smart, flexible energy infrastructure.”

National Grid’s “System Needs and Product Strategy” consultation runs until 18 July.

From DNOs to DSOs

National Grid’s report and consultation came as the Energy Networks Association (ENA), which represents the UK’s 15 gas and electricity transmission and distribution networks, launched the “Open Networks Project” to define how Distribution Network Operators (DNOs) will become Distribution System Operators (DSOs).

The shift is part of the transition to a smart grid and is based on four principles, stating that:

● local networks are non-discriminatory and technology neutral, favouring solutions that provide the most optimal solutions rather than particular technologies;

● they use market mechanisms that are fair, transparent and competitive, providing a level playing-field for providers of network services and providers of energy products/services to deploy the most efficient and effective solutions;

● they support flexibility and innovation in responding to customer future requirements and in developing the network services they require, including enabling and facilitating innovation by others;

● and they deliver value and service to a range of customers and communities.

Tony Glover, Director of Policy at the ENA, said: “Defining the changes to our local electricity networks will not only ensure that UK consumers will continue to get the kind of reliability and performance that the UK’s energy networks are renowned for as we head into a new smart era, but it will also create a platform for exciting new opportunities for them to engage in the energy market, enabling households and businesses to have greater control over their electricity and unlock the potential from new technologies like battery storage and electric vehicles in their everyday lives.”

> Read National Grid's report