The chief executive of the National Infrastructure Commission has urged government to act on the recommendations of its reports or miss the financial benefits of pioneering smarter energy systems.
Phil Graham told National Grid’s Power Responsive conference that the UK could be a “world leader” in energy storage with the right market frameworks in place. Government, he said, had to enable those frameworks.
The Committee’s March report recommended government create suitable policies to enable a smarter energy system, which it said would save consumers billions of pounds by reducing the need for new power stations.
The report also suggested that investors were “queuing up” to invest in “subsidy-free storage”.
Treasury backed the report’s proposals and threw a bone to the energy storage sector with a promise of “at least £50m” of funding for energy storage and demand-side response development.
Decc has also committed to consult on smart energy systems and recently stated that storage was “a top priority” for the department.
However, NIC chief executive Phil Graham said that while the Committee was “an advisory body rather than a delivery body… an increasingly important part of our remit is that we are expected to hold government to account”.
Government tended to be “very good at publishing positive responses”, said Graham. “But we will be paying very close attention. If things aren’t moving forward [at sufficient speed], we have a voice and we are prepared to use it,” he said.
Graham also told the conference that if demand-side response could achieve 5% penetration within the energy system, it would deliver the equivalent capacity of the proposed new nuclear reactor at Hinkley Point.
If it is constructed, Hinkley Point C would add low carbon baseload power to the UK energy system. But the cost of the project, underpinned by 35-year government contracts that would be added to energy bills, could top £20bn – excluding decommissioning costs.
The Energyst is launching a conference on demand-side response in London on 8th September. Battery storage will be one of the topics covered. The conference is free to end users. Find out more here.