UK Power Networks fast-tracks battery connections

Online application process will save time and money for customers wishing to install storage

UK Power Networks has launched a new fast-track application process for connecting small-scale battery storage to the local power grid.

It claims the online service will save time and money for customers who generate power from solar panels or wind turbines and want to install storage in their homes and businesses.

The distribution network operator (DNO) is also leading the development of guidance for connecting small-scale batteries to distribution networks, which will be published by the Energy Networks Association and provide a uniform approach to the process.  

“UK Power Networks is embracing the future of energy distribution and generation, and this move underlines our commitment to listening to our customers and delivering practical solutions,” said UK Power Networks director of asset management, Barry Hatton.

“Small-scale electricity storage in people’s homes and businesses is predicted to grow in the coming years and we have taken another step to facilitate it by making it quicker and easier to connect to our network.”

Martin Allman, country director for battery company Sonnen, said: “We’re pleased that UK Power Networks has listened to the industry and developed a simple, quick and easy process. They worked with battery manufacturers and developers to test the new process and as result we’ve got something which is going to be a genuine benefit.

“As an industry, we want to make electricity storage an easy and accessible option for our customers. By working with us, UK Power Networks has made an important move to speed up the process and lower the costs to customers.”

The launch coincided with the announcement by the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) of a new £246 million investment programme to support the development of battery technology called the Faraday challenge. A £45 million battery institute will be created as part of the first phase of the four-year programme.

Alongside Ofgem, BEIS also published the long awaited smart energy system plan, which ruled out the possibility of networks operators such as UK Power Networks being allowed to own and operate storage assets. The company recently awarded a contract to smart energy firm Limejump to operate its pioneering battery storage facility in Leighton Buzzard – the largest such facility in the UK.

UK Power Networks director of strategy and regulation Suleman Alli has told Utility Week that barring networks from owning and operating storage will raise energy bills. The Energy Networks Association has vowed to keep pushing for network-operated storage, saying there are likely to be instances in which the market “does not provide storage services in the right places that networks need it or at the lowest cost to customers”.

Last month, UK Power Networks took a major step towards becoming a distribution system operator by working with National Grid to launch a new active network management scheme to boost grid capacity in the south east of England. Generators who sign up to the scheme will benefit from a speedier and simpler one-stage connection process.