The strategy focuses almost entirely on boosting domestic manufacturing of batteries for use in electric vehicles. While this aspect is welcome, not least because the same modules can be used in static installations, the Department for Business and Trade appears to have paid insufficient attention to the fast-growing stationary energy storage sector.
The strategy says that demand for BESS is due to rise from 10 GWh in 2030 to 20 GWh by 2035. But this appears to underplay how fast the sector is growing: 5.1 GWh is under construction, with almost 100 GWh in the planning pipeline, according to Solar Media data. National Grid announced recently that it would streamline connections for 10 GW.
In November alone, plans have been announced for a facility in Essex that would be able to supply 300 megawatts and store 600 megawatt-hours, plus a 100 MW/330 MWh one in Hampshire. A 320 MW/640 MWh in North Yorkshire also commenced construction this month, the largest in the country. Solar Energy UK says it is further aware of a 400 MW project in the pipeline.
Even in a section discussing the need to strengthen electricity networks to accommodate growing demand for connections, the strategy discusses the need to meet increased demand from battery manufacturing sites. The role that BESS can play in grid balancing, frequency support, the capacity market, reducing the curtailment of renewable supplies and shrinking the need for new infrastructure by absorbing power from variable renewable sources is sadly neglected.
The strategy also says nothing about energy storage ‘behind the meter’, which plays a huge role in maximising the value of roof-mounted solar panels by allowing consumption to be shifted into the night. Solar Energy UK members report that well over half of all new residential solar installations this year include a battery.
Despite lobbying and a consultation, retrofitting BESS to existing solar installations remains subject to VAT, unlike when they are part of a new installation. Solar Energy UK had expected this anomaly to be resolved in the Autumn Statement.
“UK is leading the rest of Europe in the deployment of utility scale batteries and there are several UK manufacturers of residential batteries expanding their operations” said a spokesperson from Solar Energy UK. “By overlooking this rapidly expanding part of the clean energy sector, the Government is missing half the picture with its Battery Strategy.”
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