National Infrastructure Commission sees energy storage as 'key part' of UK energy future

The head of the newly-established National Infrastructure Commission (NIC) has revealed he considers energy storage a key part of Britain's future energy network.

George Osborne has asked the Commission to report on three initial projects by Budget 2016, one of which is energy infrastructure

George Osborne has asked the Commission to report on three initial projects by Budget 2016, one of which is energy infrastructure

Speaking at an energy storage event in London hosted by the Renewable Energy Association (REA), the NIC chief executive Phil Graham said his team was looking at was how to deliver a flexible energy system in relation to increasingly intermittent power supply from renewables.

“We are looking at solutions there, one of which is interconnection, one of which is demand side response, and one of which is storage,” he said. “It is becoming clear to us that storage is a key part of the solution”.

The NIC, established by George Osborne in October, will publish an Assessment every Parliament setting out its analysis of the UK’s infrastructure needs over a 10 to 30 year horizon.

Osborne has asked the Commission to report on three initial projects by Budget 2016, one of which is energy infrastructure.

“We have work in progress so it’s hard at this stage to say what our recommendation will be,” said Graham.

He added that he was attending the REA event in order to hear from industry about the things that could help to unlock investment in storage.

He said: “We have shared long term interests – it seems like a key part of the future energy infrastructure is going be around decentralisation; moving from just generation and distribution to generation, storage and distribution.”

Installation explosion

Graham also had some words of advice for the sector, saying that it needed to grow the profile of energy storage by demonstrating the potential for lower energy bills.

“Regulators in DECC are very busy, but if they see the benefits that energy storage offers, they are more like to focus on delivering the regulation that is needed,” he said.

It was also reported at the conference that DECC will be launching a consultation in the spring, asking for responses on how to bolster investment in energy storage. At present, the UK has about 24MW of storage capacity, but the REA has predicted that systems could soon be financially viable, leading to an installation explosion by 2020.

Potential benefits include lower overall energy costs as the risk of potentially high peak energy prices is reduced, better balancing of supply and demand, helping reduce stress on the grid and increased contribution to decarbonisation by enabling greater penetration of renewable generation.

Brad Allen


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