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Flexibility industry rounds on TCR ‘conflict’ with BEIS storage ambitions

Image: Solar Media.

Image: Solar Media.

Members of the UK’s domestic storage community have criticised the “conflict” between Ofgem’s Targeted Charging Review (TCR) and the government’s energy storage ambitions.

The opening plenary session at this morning’s Energy Storage Summit, organised by Current± publisher Solar Media, featured a presentation and discussion with Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy project leader Sally Fenton, who discussed the department’s ongoing work in promoting battery storage developments.

But the presence of the TCR loomed large over the session, and questions from the conference floor soon looked to tackle what delegates termed as a conflict between the apparent ambition expressed within BEIS’ Smart Systems and Flexibility Plan and controversial proposals within the TCR.

In late November last year Ofgem confirmed its ‘minded to’ decision to introduce fixed residual charges, irrespective of their ability to reduce their grid demand, and do away with Embedded Benefits altogether, in a bid for network charges to be distributed more evenly and to spare consumers from added costs.

This decision has been heavily criticised and earlier this month the UK’s renewables lobby responded in kind. A series of open letters addressed to the regulator warned that the charging reforms could push ‘vital’ flexibility projects to the brink of failure.

Delegates at today’s event questioned how those proposals, and their potential impacts, could be squared against BEIS’ policy objectives of stimulating a smarter, more flexible power system.

Merlin Hyman, chief executive at industry body Regen which is responsible for the UK’s Electricity Storage Network, remarked that both Ofgem and BEIS had a responsibility not just for current consumers, but also for future consumers before adding that the thought process behind such proposals need to be “a lot broader”.

But despite asserting that BEIS and Ofgem were “working closely” and that their respective teams responsible for the regulatory landscape were “connecting”, Fenton knocked back a question from the audience that scrutinised how the two bodies were seemingly contradicting each other on the topic.

The consultation deadline on Ofgem’s TCR proposals has now closed, with the intent to review them before a final decision and policy statement is published in June.

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