Quantifying the UK’s energy storage ‘world of opportunity’

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Chris Pritchett is a contract lawyer working in Britain for law firm Foot Anstey, as a partner heading up the energy and environment practice. Pritchett recently served as moderator for the “Developers and financiers debate” at the Energy Storage Conference at the Solar & Storage Live 2017 show in England. In attendance were fund managers and project developers and a robust discussion followed. Afterwards, Andy Colthorpe caught up with Chris for an in-depth interview on camera.   

One main topic that comes up often is the relative complexity of modelling returns for energy storage projects, compared to the simplicity enjoyed by solar developers and financiers.

“[With the feed-in tariff (FiT), renewables obligation (RO) and PPAs]… you got used to a quite straightforward and really quite easily modellable return. You knew what it was going to be – it was government-backed for 20-25 years. There has been a journey whereby the investment community has had to detach themselves from that way of thinking.

“Some of the most sophisticated guys haven’t come from that background, they’ve come from tech investment. Actually, they’re far more used to the way this is working. There’s still a willingness to say, 'what’s the aggregation agreement, or the FFR (fast frequency response) agreement? That’s the financeable proposition'.

“And you say 'no, actually, here… is an asset – we’ve got grid, all the connections, we’ve got the battery modules and control system. And we’ve got a world of opportunity, where somebody, at some point, will pay you to do lots of stuff with it'.

“People who are well placed to take advantage of that market will be people with assets deployed and ready to go.”      

In the video, Chris Pritchett also talks about:

  • Why the development and project sector needs to be stronger in its lobbying of utilities and regulators to “get behind the industry and make some change”.
  • How to make investors more comfortable with getting involved in energy storage projects – with factors including technological risk mitigation and sharing data from successful projects.
  • How best to work with DNOs (distribution network operators), the regional organisations which ensure Britain’s homes and businesses are supplied with power, as well as with the national regulator, Ofgem.
  • Why some things should be standardised to accelerate the market – and why some things should not.
  • How behind-the-meter energy storage, despite smaller revenues, is attracting strong interest from financiers, due to its relative simplicity and lower initial outlays being required.

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