November 13, 2019
LONDON, United Kingdom … Regulatory uncertainty, lack of visibility on returns, and technical challenges are impeding investment in flexibility services to support Britain’s electricity network as more renewables come online, risking delays in the transition to a greener future, an industry report said.
The Energy Transition Readiness Index, a report published by the Association for Renewable Energy & Clean Technology (REA) and commissioned by Eaton and Drax, reviewed regulation and market access, social and political support for the energy transition, and deployment of enabling technologies such as smart meters in nine northern European countries.
Britain, which ranked eighth out of the nine countries in the index, scored poorly on market factors such as a clear and stable regulatory and market framework. The report also highlighted potential difficulties accessing the distribution network and a lack of progress on delivering smart electric vehicle charging.
Flexibility is becoming increasingly important as more variable renewables such as wind and solar replace Britain’s large fossil-fuelled power stations to meet targets to cut carbon emissions. Large generators typically provided flexibility by supplying power during peak demand and ensuring that the system’s voltage and frequency remained within operational limits.
The Netherlands topped the league table of nine countries. Finland, Sweden, Denmark, Ireland and Norway also scored high, while Germany, Britain and France lagged.
Dr Nina Skorupska, Chief Executive of the REA said: “Decarbonising power means delivering flexibility. In a world of very low-cost variable renewable electricity generation, grids need to be organised differently and some services which were once taken for granted need to be actively procured.
“Crucially, as renewable power prices fall around the world every country will be experiencing the same shift. If Britain becomes a flexibility pioneer, then a whole world of markets for exporting our products and services opens up. Whilst this index shows we’re lagging behind, there’s still time to bounce back.
“That’s why the REA is calling for the next government to address the barriers to flexibility by delivering wholesale systems change and reform Ofgem as a priority.”
Drax Head of Strategy Robert Riley said: “Flexibility is essential to enable net-zero carbon in Britain for 2050. It reduces the risks of power cuts and builds resilience into the grid so that the system can handle the volume of intermittent renewables that we’ll need. Without these flexibility services, it’s going to be much harder, and more costly, to transition to a cleaner electricity system.
“There’s a huge potential for innovative flexible technologies to play a role. More could be done to provide a level playing field, and clarity on business models so that they can contribute to the zero-carbon ambition.”
Drax already provides a number of flexibility services in the UK, including frequency management, inertia and reserve power from its biomass-powered plant in Yorkshire, hydro in Scotland and is looking to provide further flexibility services including from rapid response gas plants.
Eaton Head of Energy Storage Business Fabrice Roudet said: “We welcome Britain’s ambition and its strong policy commitment to decarbonisation, encouraging new flexibility technologies and business models. However, we urgently need more clarity and an end to the flux to provide the certainty needed to spur private investment in the new technologies that will be required to ease the transition to a high-renewable energy future.”
Robert Hull, author of the report said: “In Britain, the strong ambition for the energy transition and growing flexibility markets hasn’t yet translated into the market and regulatory framework, which is complex and slow to change.”
The Index ranked the countries as follows:
1. The Netherlands
8. Great Britain
Case study on battery energy storage
Drax has partnered with Eaton to supply and connect battery storage systems to small businesses that are already customers of Drax, such as farms and offices, so they can store power generated from on-site micro renewables like wind turbines and solar.
This allows Drax’s customers to maximise the value of the renewable energy they generate, either using it when it is required or selling it back to the grid during peak demand.
Drax and Eaton have connected three Eaton xStorage Buildings storage systems and are installing another five by the end of this year and four early next year with a total capacity of around 600 kWh. These are a mix of 40 kWh and 80 kWh capacity from new and second-life batteries.
The REA is the UK’s largest trade association for renewable energy and clean technologies with around 550 members operating across heat, transport, and power. The REA is a not-for-profit organisation that represents renewable energy and clean technology companies operating in over fourteen sectors, ranging from biogas and renewable fuels to solar and electric vehicle charging. Membership ranges from major multinationals to sole traders.
For more information, visit: www.r-e-a.net
Eaton is a power management company with 2018 sales of $21.6 billion. We provide energy-efficient solutions that help our customers effectively manage electrical, hydraulic and mechanical power more efficiently, safely and sustainably. Eaton is dedicated to improving the quality of life and the environment through the use of power management technologies and services. Eaton has approximately 100,000 employees and sells products to customers in more than 175 countries.
For more information, visit www.eaton.com.
Drax Group’s ambition is to enable a zero carbon, lower cost energy future. Its 2,600-strong staff operate across three principal areas of activity – electricity generation, electricity sales to business customers and compressed wood pellet production.
Drax owns and operates a portfolio of flexible, low carbon and renewable electricity generation assets across Britain. The assets include the UK’s largest power station, based at Selby, North Yorkshire, which supplies five percent of the country’s electricity needs.
Having converted two thirds of Drax Power Station to use sustainable biomass instead of coal it has become the UK’s biggest renewable power generator and the largest decarbonisation project in Europe.
Drax owns two B2B energy supply businesses:
For more information visit www.drax.com
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