National Grid presses UK government on storage regulations

National Grid wants the UK government to change the law on storage so that it can compete with ‘Big Six’ utilities and offer energy storage of its own.

The operator of the country’s electricity system believes enabling it to own its own storage makes sense from a practical and economical perspective but this view may be contested by power generators.

à‚ Under current rules, National Grid and also distribution network operators ࢀ” which own and maintain electricity cables locally ࢀ” are not allowed to expand into storage as it is seen as a “generation” activity.
National Grid control room and operator
Storage absorbs electricity when too much is being generated and then releases it when there is high demand. It is also seen as a critical way of helping to balance the electricity system, particularly at times when wind farms and solar are generating too much power for the network to cope with. National Grid has to make sure electricity fed through the system stays at a stable and safe frequency to avoid damage to household electrical appliances.

As renewables expand and coal power is completely withdrawn storage is seen as more and more important. FT reports that both National Grid and UK Power Networks ࢀ” a company owned by Hong Kong billionaire Li Ka-shing’s Cheung Kong group ࢀ” are pressing for the regulatory shift that would allow them to own storage to help manage the system better.

Suleman Alli, director of strategy at UK Power Networks, said storage could help save money as network operators may not need to invest so much to adapt to the changing electricity system.

“By tapping into energy stored in grid-scale energy storage, networks could potentially reduce the need for expensive network enhancements as new technologies like electric vehicles become more widespread,” he said.

Power generation utilities are not keen on the push by NG. Keith Anderson, chief corporate officer at ScottishPower, one of the big six utility companies, said: “The UK already has storage assets operating within the competitive market and we can see no reason why new storage schemes should not continue to operate within the same market.”

Ofgem, Britain’s energy market regulator, has also said in the past that allowing networks to own their own storage “might stifle development of competition in the market”.

No posts to display