By confirming that solar farms are able to retain accreditation under the government Renewables Obligation (RO) when supplying electricity to batteries, national gas and electricity market regulator Ofgem has made a “game changer” decision for UK energy storage.
UK renewables company Anesco has become the first commercial solar farm operator in the country to retain accreditation under the RO scheme for solar farms that supply storage batteries directly – a landmark decision which removes one of the key barriers to deploying storage in the UK.
Anesco’s 5MW solar farm in Northampton, which is co-located with battery storage under one grid connection, was the first site in the UK to qualify for Renewables Obligation Certificates (ROCs). [ROCs are support paid to accredited renewable energy generators – for the electricity they generate and supply to the battery as well as the remaining electricity they export to the grid.] Another two 5MW sites-one in Chesterfield and the other, Stratford-upon-Avon, qualified for ROCs.
Each 5MW site is linked to a 1.1MWh battery which stores energy generated during the day and releases it at peak times onto the grid, thereby helping to stabilise the electric system.
Ofgem’s decision under the RO scheme means that operators of the sites can receive ROCs.
A game changer for the UK’s energy storage market
Luke Hargreaves, head of renewables at Ofgem, commented: “Battery storage can assist with system balancing and save consumers money by matching supply and demand. It has the potential to play an important role as Britain makes the transition to a low carbon, smarter and more flexible energy system.
“Last month Ofgem published its joint plan with the Government on smart systems and flexibility, covering storage. We plan to publish guidance on the arrangements for storage under the Renewable Obligation and Feed-in Tariff schemes later this year and will be seeking stakeholder feedback. The recent decisions demonstrate that, where the necessary criteria are met, co-location of storage facilities at accredited renewable installations is possible under the current legislative framework.”
Steve Shine, Executive Chairman of Anesco, said: “This decision is a game changer for the UK’s energy storage market. Ofgem has firmly cemented energy storage as being a vital part of the solution to keeping the country’s ‘lights on’.”
He added: “We have long seen the opportunity that energy storage presents, installing the UK’s first utility scale unit back in 2014. Since then we have been working hard to ensure it’s a commercially-viable proposition and we’re delighted to be first to step up and make it work with ROC sites.
“Ofgem will be issuing guidance to the industry on how this can work, but Anesco’s methodology cannot be published. We will very soon be talking to all our existing solar sites to offer investors the opportunity to improve their internal rate of return (IRR) by providing the flexibility the UK energy network needs.”
This news is the latest from Ofgem to pave the way for a smoother integration of battery storage into the UK energy system, following the actions outlined in the recent publication of the smart systems and flexibility report.