While we in Britain agonise over whether to remain in the EU or leave, there is another important issue that centres on Europe and the European Commission.
In or out, the UK will be connected to Europe electrically and if we want to rely on electricity from our neighbours, including Ireland, then we will have to comply with European grid codes. Outside the European Union we may have little say on shaping these codes, as we do now, but European network codes and market design packages are likely to be incredibly important for electricity storage in the UK.
Storage currently treated as generation
Electricity storage is the great forgotten entity of the electricity system and all our regulations, in UK and Europe, were written without a thought for storage. The government's Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) and national independent regulator Ofgem are busy putting together a Call for Evidence and Consultation respectively to hear the views of stakeholders that will cover many smart energy issues, including storage, but the publication has been delayed and that means any outcomes have also been delayed at a time when the electricity storage industry in the UK is straining to get assets on the ground, not least in response to the National Grid call for very rapid frequency response. As the UK's sole transmission system operator (TSO) National Grid want assets deployed to deliver this new service by autumn 2017, with a tender in early July this year. This means that providers are having to tender into an uncertain policy and regulatory future.
Electricity storage in the UK is currently treated as generation and that may be the way it stays. Certainly the more the storage industry calls for a “quick” solution - no solution is truly quick, given most would take 12 months to implement, plus a further 12-18 months for network code changes - the more likely that solution is to be 'generation-shaped'.
Those in the industry who love and understand network codes are a special breed of person, who love the detail and nitty gritty of getting an electricity system to work, but very often most of us aren’t interested in the codes that are the oil that keep the electrons flowing and the system stable, bit there are a number of recent EU codes that already clearly make the distinction between generation and storage.
The vital tool for delivering the low carbon energy system
In Europe electricity storage is increasingly recognised, just as in the UK, as being the vital tool to deliver the low carbon energy system efficiently and the European Commission are in the process of considering amendments to Electricity Market Design, the “Third Package” that will be set in motion this December in the “Winter Package”. Energy storage is very definitely in the mix and areas that are under consideration are the resolution of the double charging of end user levies (that fund low carbon generation incentives), fair market design to support storage and the creation of a separate storage asset category, since storage is neither generation nor demand, but both. There is also likely to be an EU definition for energy storage, although tighter definitions will be needed in local jurisdictions for electricity storage to meet exacting local regulatory requirements.
If these measures progress in the “Winter Package” then Europe will quickly and decisively set the policy and regulatory arrangements for energy storage in all nation states, inside or outside the European Union and that is one very definite benefit that Europe will have for the storage industry.
Those in the industry who love and understand network codes are a special breed of person, who love the detail and nitty gritty of getting an electricity system to work, but very often most of us aren’t interested in the codes that are the oil that keep the electrons flowing and the system stable, bit there are a number of recent EU codes that already clearly make the distinction between generation and storage."