UK industry says more energy storage is needed, as COVID-19 offers glimpse of low carbon future

Industry voices in the UK have said that electricity market activity during the COVID-19 pandemic shows that the network will become prohibitively expensive and possibly unmanageable without the further rapid deployment of energy storage.

In article published last week by our UK-based energy transition site, Current±, Aaron Lally, head of trading at aggregator and battery asset operator Kiwi Power said that the penultimate weekend in May, during which a record was set for low carbon intensity, offered a “glimpse of how the electricity grid has to look if National Grid are to hit 2025 targets”.

National Grid’s electricity system operator (ESO) arm said that the grid dropped to 46g of CO2 per kilowatt-hour of power on Sunday 24 May. Power generator Drax’s Electric Insights service also measured that wholesale electricity price on the day-ahead market across Friday 22 May – which was a public holiday – averaged out at £-9.92 (US$-12.43) per MWh, more than halving the previous record low set in December 2019 of £-4.62 per Mh. Prices bottomed out at £-52.03 per MWh at one point on the Friday morning.

With the UK still in lockdown and a public holiday taking place, the grid operator used its Optional Downward Flexibility Management (ODFM) service to balance the network. This is a new tool brought in by the operator that allows it to balance over generation without the need to turn off embedded generation without warning – which means that renewable assets do not have to be curtailed in large numbers, as had been feared.

Kiwi Power as well as EDF’s Energy Trading Services division both said that they helped balanced the grid using the ODFM. Batteries can play their role as they can absorb energy from the grid, EDF’s head of trading Chris Regan pointed out in a LinkedIn post.

Kiwi Power’s Aaron Lally similarly said that his company “utilised battery storage site across various revenue streams including ODFM, the new National Grid service to manage low demand,” during the long weekend.

“The revenue we captured when annualised would see the full cost of asset repaid within two to three years. With the system operator pushing to make Saturday’s low carbon grid the norm, the business case for battery storage (driven by contracted markets) has never been more attractive,” Lally said, in a quote supplied to Current± and Energy-Storage.news.

Read more: Energy Storage News

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