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ElectraLink and the Renewable Energy Association (REA) have identified a significant increase in energy exported to GB distribution networks from battery storage and solar PV sources.

Data from the Energy Market Data Hub (EMDH) indicates solar PV exports to distribution networks reached 8TWh in 2018, up from 194GWh in 2012. From 2014 to 2018, battery storage exports increased from 50MWh to 49GWh.

ElectraLink collected, managed and analysed the data for the Flexible Futures report which we are launching in partnership with the REA. The data will be available to the industry to assist developers, manufactures, policymakers and networks in their planning.

Paul Linnane, ElectraLink’s Head of Energy Market Insight, said: “What we’ve found in the data is an unprecedented view of where embedded generation is going in contributing to the energy mix. An exponential increase like this cannot be ignored as networks plan for more solar PV to be connected, and especially with the uptake of electric vehicles. It is a pleasure to work with the REA on the Flexible Futures report to prepare the UK for the next 10 years and demonstrate how data is leading future planning.”

The full Flexible Futures report will be launched at a conference on 24 October 2019 in London.

The data also highlights the extent to which there is a growing proportion of power being exported to the distribution networks in GB from variable sources:

  • In 2012, over 60% of exports were from ‘more dispatchable’ – or weather-independent – sources,
  • In 2018, exports from these sources dropped to under 40%, highlighting the growing need for networks to procure flexibility and evolve into Distribution System Operators (DSOs).

Regarding solar PV, the dataset records two types of solar PV connected to the distribution network. ‘Solar’ refers to conventional solar PV, which can be observed on their system.

‘Solar (mixed)’ refers to what they know to be solar but does not behave as such with its exports, given known weather patterns. This implies there may be otherwise unseen on-site energy storage or other forms of generation, such as diesel generation sets, at these sites.

Between the two types of solar data, exports rose significantly from 194GWh to over 8TWh in 2018.

ElectraLink has governance provisions to allow us to access data from across the gas and electricity markets.

For any queries or questions on the dataset or our analysis, please feel free to contact us at [email protected].