Battery Storage

Battery Storage is viewed by many as a key enabler of achieving our Net Zero targets. A battery’s ability to charge (i.e. store electricity) and discharge (release electricity when most required) provides essential flexibility to our network. Not only can batteries compliment the intermittent nature of renewable generation, they can also provide key network services, such as reactive power and inertia. There are currently 247.5MW of battery connected to the Transmission network in Britain[1], with a further 1.2GW connected to the Distribution network[2].

The first major tranche of battery storage in Britain arose from the Enhanced Frequency Response (EFR) tender in 2016, ran by National Grid. 201MW of battery storage across eight different sites was procured, with the batteries expected to detect changes in system frequency within 500ms and subsequently provide a change in active power within 1 second. This services helps National Grid manage the frequency of the network, and allows it to react quickly to sudden changes in frequency caused by power outages or sudden uptakes in generation output. The successful sites secured 4-year contracts (starting from Feb 2018), with accepted prices ranging from £7/MWh for EDF’s 49MW West Burton site, to £11.97/MWh for Foresights 10MW Nevendon site[3]. At present there are no plans to run further EFR auctions once the service contracts expire, however, the introduction of Dynamic Containment, a service looking for sites to react after a significant frequency event (LINK) is potentially the start of a number of frequency related services that are procured by National Grid. The first tender for the Dynamic Containment service out turned prices of £14-15/MWh, providing hope to battery operators that this will grow to be a profitable and long-term revenue stream for their assets.

The battery market will grow significantly over the coming years, with roughly 7GW of capacity expected to connect to the Distribution network in the next decade, with a further 4GW expected on the Transmission network by the end of 2026[4]. Business cases for batteries have been built around providing Frequency Response and/or trading and Balancing Mechanism participation. While batteries have dominated the Frequency Response market, the uptake of Balancing Mechanism actions has been slower than many would have hoped. The opening of the Distributed Resource Desk in the National Grid control room has allowed for direct focus on smaller sites including batteries and DSR units to be utilised in the Balancing Mechanism, however, more work is required for these assets to be utilised to their full potential. Furthermore, Arenko completed an innovative trail with National Grid which should see batteries better placed to compete with gas plants in providing flexible reserve to National Grid (this trial is explained in great detail here). This trial was expanded in September, allowing for other battery providers to participate.

[1] National Grid TEC Register, 24th Sept 2020

[2] Taken from each of the six DNO’s Capacity Registers as at 20th Sept 2020. Note: at present SSEN do not have a specific category for Battery – I have assumed that the category titled ‘Other’ accounts for battery storage.


[4] TEC Register and DNO Capacity Registers, as above 1 & 2 footnotes.

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