It seems clear from NGET's interim report that the cause of 1.3GW of generation outage was a highly-unusual event. Nearly 500MW of batteries responded, as well a variety of other assets and grid frequency and hence power was restored relatively quickly, albeit with longer disruption at distribution level and the infrastructure behind it.
There clearly needs to be some work on the management and prioritisation of what to switch-off, so that major transport networks can be sustained if possible. More broadly, though, this has to serve as a wake-up call to policy-makers on the value of a far more connected, smart and flexible energy system that:
- recognises the speed and resilience benefits of fast responding assets and removes barriers to their deployment
- provides far better co-ordination between the transmission and distribution networks and far greater visibility of embedded generation and flexibility assets.
We have long been involved in discussions as to whether the Capacity Market was flawed in penalising fast responding assets for being of shorter duration, where the evidence seems to suggest that faster response shortens the duration of any call on the capacity portfolio. Recent events would seem to bear this out. My view is that the CM is a bit of a creaky old subsidy vehicle for keeping gas plants open, and from a transitional point of view, that's fine (to a point). It doesn't, by itself, represent the answer to energy security questions in this country.
We need, alongside existing and planned call-up gas reserve...
- More fast-responding battery storage.
- Far better Energy System data and interoperability to give NG ESO a far greater toolbox with which to manage the system and design its response
- a more holistic DSR package across a wide range of properties and businesses
Clearly, this is a bit of a case of me shaping the narrative to fit those outcomes, but at Foot Anstey, our team is working with numerous clients on fast response assets that, once built, would have far more effectively buffered the outages. We need to ensure that policy barriers, such as changes to network charging do not impede the deployment of battery projects, and we are working closely as Chair of the ESN's Markets and Revenues Group with industry colleagues and Regen on these issues. We have also been delighted with the response to the Energy Data Task Force Report (for which we were one of the key contributors) and momentum will hopefully be sustained on putting its recommendations into practice.
In the meantime, though, twin lightning strikes have clearly lit up the energy landscape and provided a heck of a case study. We look forward to helping clients pull the lever on the next evolution of a smart and flexible system, and then laughing manically and yelling...."it's alive!" Or something.