REACTION: Industry responds to smart energy strategy from BEIS

Tim Emrich, chief executive, UK Power Reserve, said: “Smart, flexible energy is the future of the UK electricity market, with fast-ramping technologies such as small-scale gas engines and battery storage close to centres of demand. We at UK Power Reserve have demonstrated our commitment to this future system and we are delighted that the government’s plans reflect this confidence.”

Michael Phelan, chief executive, Endeco Technologies, said: “Generation, storage and use of power at the right time is essential, and incentivising these actions is a positive step, given the continued electrification of our lives, whether it’s cars, heating, air conditioning or entertainment systems.”

Emma Pinchbeck, executive director, RenewableUK, said: “The energy sector agrees that a clean, flexible and modern energy system is the future, a future which relies on a clear vision from government, working in partnership with businesses. Renewables are a mainstream technology, reliably providing over 25% of our electricity. The advent of battery storage is the missing puzzle piece which will allow us to maximise the potential of our world-beating renewable energy resources here in the UK”.

Chris Hewett, policy manager, Solar Trade Association, said: “Our research shows that a high penetration of batteries alongside solar power would reduce overall costs to the electricity system and allow the country to have cheap solar at the heart of its power system. As we have seen with solar panels, a favourable policy framework can drive down costs of technology very quickly and create markets. It is vital that the government gets the charging, taxation and regulation of storage right from the start or innovations that will benefit the consumer risk being held back. Today’s announcements are a start but there is a lot to do and a clearer timetable is needed.”

Rob Marsh, co-chair of renewables and partner, Norton Rose Fulbright, said: “Battery storage will have a key role in this evolution of the energy sector and these announcements reinforce the message that the UK government is keen to be at the forefront, which can only be a good thing. The move to smarter, responsive systems and the true scale-up of battery storage in the UK requires a clear regulatory framework.”

David Reed, Head of npower Business Solutions, said: “With the current complexities and uncertainty in the energy market, we welcome the government’s investment into battery storage and the launch of the smart energy plan. This transition in the energy market marks a huge opportunity for our business customers to ensure they are firmly in control of their energy management through DSR and on-site generation initiatives. It is crucial that government maintains momentum and delivers this industrial strategy to enable the UK to compete globally as we transition through Brexit.”

Jenifer Baxter, head of energy and environment, Institution of Mechanical Engineers, said: “The role of batteries in electricity storage is still emerging and it is important that research and development explore whether the materials used in batteries, from extraction to disposal, are sustainable and therefore the best solution for electricity storage.  It may be that other storage mediums such as gas, compressed air energy storage and water provide a more suitable and sustainable long term solution. This announcement addresses a very small part of the whole energy system, areas where we are currently seeing increases in oil use, such as freight and shipping require significant investment to explore alternative fuels, such as bio-methane and hydrogen.”

Basil Scarsella, chief executive, UK Power Networks, said: “We are on the verge of a change as significant for electricity as the advent of broadband was for telecommunications. We are already transforming our networks to be smarter and more flexible, and are currently consulting on our vision for the smart grid of the future. Working together with government, the regulator, academia and other stakeholders we believe this transformation will unlock significant benefits for consumers.”

David Smith, CEO of Energy Networks Association, said: ”In the next six years alone consumers are expected to benefit from nearly £1bn of savings as result of innovation from electricity distribution networks. Bringing transmission and distribution network operators together, Open Networks will deliver the operational and functional changes necessary to ensure that local electricity network operators move from simply delivering electricity from centralised power plants, to being a smarter, more capable platform that enables new energy technologies, products and services to connect to the grid more quickly and more affordably than is currently the case. It will do so whilst defining the new relationship between transmission and distribution network operators.

Nigel Turvey, network strategy and innovation manager, Western Power Distribution, said: “The importance of stakeholder engagement cannot be underestimated, and the Open Networks Project ensures a wide range of stakeholders are consulted, ensuring a holistic whole energy system approach is taken. This is essential for the transition to a smart energy system in the most efficient and cost-effective way.”

Chris Clarke, director of asset management, Wales & West Utilities, said: “A whole system approach is essential if we are going to deliver what energy customers want and need – an energy system and market that is secure, affordable and sustainable. This includes major initiatives like the ENA’s Open Networks Project, where through the sharing of best practice from the gas industry, electricity DNOs are becoming system operators – essential to a future decentralised and sustainable energy system.”

Subscribe to New Power for full analysis, comment, interviews and data in our monthly report, and access to our database, and sign up to our FREE e-newsletter for website updates