National Grid brings ‘exciting new chapter’ for energy storage with auction launch

National Grid has awarded seven firms including Vattenfall, Low Carbon and EDF Energy Renewables four-year contracts to provide balancing services to the network in the UK's first 200MW Enhanced Frequency Response (EFR) auction.

The EFR tender was developed to bring forward new technologies that support the decarbonisation of the energy industry. E.ON UK, Element Power, RES and Belectric complete the list of successful applicants – of which half of the contracts will use battery storage technology to provide a fast response solution to system volatility.  

National Grid has indicated that the auction will result in approximately £200m reduced costs and streamline services to make them as efficient as possible.

‘We are constantly looking to the future to understand how we can make the most of the energy available to us,” National Grid UK system operator director Cordi O’Hara said. “This project is at the very core of our Power Responsive work, to balance the Grid by the most efficient means possible, saving money and energy.”

The network operator hopes the four-year contracts will give providers the certainty that they need to develop the battery storage technology. The service allows National Grid to provide sub-second response solutions to system volatility, improving on the previous fastest frequency response which could be delivered in under ten seconds.

Vattenfall’s battery storage technology, Battery@PyC, will deliver or absorb up to 22MW of electrical power at its Pen y Cymoedd Wind Energy Project in south Wales, for a duration of up to 15 minutes.

The company’s senior development manager Stephen Holdroyd said: “Our four-year contract with National Grid means Battery@PyC will help maintain stability of power supply on the grid within milliseconds when it’s needed. Locating the storage facility at Pen y Cymoedd is a cost effective concept for us and we are excited about what we will learn from this new venture. In fact we have already learnt a huge amount from National Grid’s excellent initiative”.

“Being smart and clean with the energy people want is at the heart of Vattenfall’s strategy. Projects like Battery@PyC will play an important part in the UK’s transition to a low carbon, affordable and reliable energy supply.”

‘Exciting new chapter’

The news has been welcomed by industry organisations who suggest that further support for energy storage could pave the way for the UK to become a world-leader in the global low-carbon transformation.

Commenting on the announcement, Renewable Energy Association head of policy and external affairs James Court said: “The conclusion of the EFR auction shows that storage is now ready to deliver, and with the right framework can provide vital services to UK Plc. National Grid deserve credit for kick-starting this market and the Government must now follow through with its pledge to remove barriers to the industry. 
“In 2012 energy storage was identified as one of eight great industries the UK could lead the world in. The industry is starting to deliver on this promise, with the right support in place we can go even further.”
“It is yet another example of new technologies that can provide alternatives to Hinkley for cost effective, low carbon electricity.”

Court’s optimised is shared by RenewableUK’s deputy chief executive Maf Smith, who added: “These awards show that we can work with industry to bring forward new technology and I believe storage has much to contribute to the flexible energy system of tomorrow. This is the beginning of an exciting new chapter for the industry.”


Following recent criticisms over its apparent mishandling of energy storage contracts, National Grid has ended a tumultuous start to the week on a positive note.

On Tuesday (23 August), National Grid’s decision to cancel a tender financially incentivising companies to reduce electricity demand during peak times in winter months was criticised as a “short-sighted” approach which will “undermine” business confidence in the UK energy strategy.

At the start of the week, new research from renewable energy purchaser and supplier SmartestEnergy revealed that the business case for energy storage is being undermined by many uncertainties within the burgening sector, such as limited revenue streams and grid services contract availability.

George Ogleby

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