S&C Hosts UK Policymakers Seeking to Learn about Electrical Networks, Energy Storage

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UK policymakers visit S&C

Two European policymakers visited S&C Electric Company’s Chicago headquarters recently to gauge from our expertise what the structure of electrical networks should look like. Their common concern was over whether the way their markets are constructed is adequate to achieve their governments’ energy ambitions.

Carwyn Jones, First Minister of Wales, home of S&C’s Europe, Middle East, and Africa (EMEA) sales and support office, came to S&C’s Chicago manufacturing plant to see our Smart Grid Product Demonstration Center and to learn from our experiences how networks can run and what the government should and shouldn’t be doing to assist. The Welsh government has an initiative around energy and low-carbon generation, and it is very interested in energy storage. It wants to better understand how it could support that market to help the Welsh economy grow.

The visit also addressed the challenges small and midsize companies operating in Wales face. S&C aims to grow its business in the UK, and because we’re invested in Wales, the First Minister sought our input on what the Welsh government could do to help further S&C’s investment. From S&C’s point-of-view, a stable energy policy is necessary to allow the electric utilities and renewable companies to make confident investments in their systems. What we offer there is sales and service, so if we can sell more that would mean we will have more sales and service types of jobs to support the Welsh economy, not to mention the growth in government tax revenue from our increased business there.
At left, James Heappey, the British Member of Parliament for Wells and member of the Energy and Climate Change Select Committee.

At left, James Heappey, the British Member of Parliament for Wells and member of the Energy and Climate Change Select Committee.

In a separate, coincidental visit, James Heappey, the British Member of Parliament for Wells and member of the Energy and Climate Change Select Committee, came to S&C’s Chicago plant specifically to learn more about energy storage and its integration into a smart energy system. He also visited our Smart Grid Product Demonstration Center, where he witnessed demonstrations of distribution system technologies that improve service reliability, and he learned how our live and operational energy storage units participate and make money on the wholesale market via the PJM Interconnection for frequency response.

In the UK, utilities cannot own energy storage projects, and we believe that’s affecting growth in the region’s market because utilities know best what it takes to own and operate this type of asset. Also, the utilities’ needs may vary from moment to moment, so the utilities need to have greater control over the behavior of energy storage assets. Without direct control, energy storage could add to the problems caused by distributed generation, which is ironic because integrating renewable energy is one of the primary benefits of energy storage.

At this moment, the UK government has unfortunately viewed energy storage as just an R&D project. In doing so, while there’s many supportive energy storage projects, the UK government has not created a compelling market for storage. As a result, the policymakers truly don’t know the costs and benefits of energy storage activities.

If the UK is to achieve its ambitious carbon-reduction plans, then energy storage will become an integral part of that solution. S&C is proud to help share knowledge to help the government make the best decision for the Welsh economy, people and environment.

Expert

Andrew Jones

Publication Date

September 21, 2016