Should National Grid be allowed to own storage?

Power network operator National Grid has called for a change in regulations to allow it to own storage, the Financial Times reports.

Under the current rules, National Grid and distribution network operators across Britain are not permitted to expand into storage as it is seen as a “generation” activity.

Responding to a government consultation, Ian Graves, director of National Grid’s business development arm, said that the current restriction on ownership of storage “risks damaging the potential consumer benefits that a level playing field could deliver”.

Meanwhile, National Grid chief executive John Pettigrew told the FT in a recent interview: “There is an opportunity in the UK for storage to be used as an alternative to transmission and distribution.”

Storage is seen as an essential way of helping to balance the electricity system — particularly as more wind and solar generation comes on stream, replacing polluting coal power stations. It may also reduce the amount that needs to be invested in the electricity network in the future.

“By tapping into energy stored in grid-scale energy storage, networks could potentially reduce the need for expensive network enhancements as new technologies like electric vehicles become more widespread,” explained Suleman Alli, director of strategy at UK Power Networks.

However, electricity generators would prefer National Grid to stay away from storage.

Keith Anderson, chief corporate officer at ScottishPower, one of the ‘big six’ utility companies, told the FT: “The UK already has storage assets operating within the competitive market and we can see no reason why new storage schemes should not continue to operate within the same market.”

Another utility company quoted by the newspaper said that network operators should act as “neutral market facilitators, not as commercial service providers”.

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