UK Parliament Debates Energy Storage

It’s all go on the energy storage front in the UK. Yesterday not only was V2G mentioned in the mainstream media but it was also debated by a committee in the House of Commons. The summary of the Energy Bill [Lords] 2015-16 states that it is:

A Bill to make provision about the Oil and Gas Authority and its functions; to make provision about fees in respect of activities relating to oil, gas, carbon dioxide and pipelines; to make provision about wind power; and for connected purposes.

I presume energy storage must count as a “connected purpose”, since the proposed New Clause 14 which was under discussion yesterday, reads as follows:

Electricity storage

(1) Section 4 of the electricity Act 1989 is amended as follows.

(2) After subsection (1)(c) insert—

“(d) stores electricity for the purpose of giving a supply to any premises or enabling a supply to be so given,”

(3) At end of subsection (4) insert—

““Store” means the conversion of electricity into a form of energy which can be stored, the storing of the energy which has been so converted and the reconversion of the stored energy into electrical energy in devices with an individual capacity of more than 50MW.”

(4) Section 6 of the electricity Act 1989 is amended as follows.

(5) After subsection (1)(d) insert—

“(e) a licence authorising a person to store electricity for the purpose of giving a supply to any premises or enabling a supply to be so given (‘a storage licence’);”

(6) After subsection (2) insert—

“(2ZA) In addition to holding a storage licence, the same person may be a holder of—

(a) a distribution licence,

(b) a transmission licence, or

(c) a generation licence.

(2ZB) The Secretary of State may by order determine the circumstances under which a person may hold a storage licence in addition to a distribution licence, a transmission licence or a generation licence under subsection (2ZA).

Events in The House were recorded for posterity, and the debate about NC14 can be seen in this video:

In some of the edited highlights Dr. Alan Whitehead, who is Shadow Minister for Energy and Climate Change, pointed out that:

A number of the issues we have discussed in the Committee—intermittency of wind, base-load problems and a whole range of other issues—can begin to be addressed by battery storage of electricity.

For example, if a battery storage system is attached to a solar array, the life of that solar array can be extended far beyond the period during the day when the sun shines. Clearly, the power that comes from it can go right through the night. We are already seeing that effect, to a minor extent, with solar arrays on streetlights, but on a much larger scale it could revolutionise the way in which solar is used in future.

Battery storage can also be used in relation to wind. We have heard that wind, quite self-evidently, does not always blow, and sometimes when it does blow, it blows rather a lot. Ensuring that the capturing of that variability is smoothed out into a regular supply through the attachment of battery storage to the wind turbine is clearly a positive step forward as far as wind supply is concerned.

However Andrea Leadsom, who is The Minister of State at the Department of Energy and Climate Change ultimately responded by saying:

On this last new clause, I am as keen as mustard on electricity storage; it has a vital contribution to make to dealing with intermittency and I wish we were five years ahead—it will be interesting to see how much we have managed to achieve in creating this new ability to store intermittent generation.

New clause 14 would create a new licence category for electricity storage operators and allow other licence holders, such as generators and transmission and distribution network operators, to hold an electricity storage licence. The creation of a separate electricity storage licence is an option that is being considered by my Department and one of a number of issues for storage operators to be included in a call for evidence in the spring. This will enable us to test it against other options, which may be less regulatory and burdensome, more targeted and, importantly, faster to implement. So, much as I would love to say, on this very last new clause, that we agree with the hon. Gentleman, the problem is that licensing storage now would be premature. Indeed, the Electricity Storage Network, which is a key trade body for the storage industry, has criticised this new clause on the grounds that it

“pre-empts the current work by the Department” and

“may hinder, rather than help, the progress of well thought-out strategies to support … the storage industry.”

following which Dr. Whitehead withdrew his proposed amendment.

All of which does rather beg the question of what “well thought-out strategies to support the storage industry” here in the United Kingdom will eventually look like, and whether they will accommodate “EV owners”, “Communities” and/or “Aggregators” as well as Distribution Network Operators, Transmission System Operators and electricity generators, whether distributed or centralised.

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