Battery, solar exports skyrocket from 2012-2018

  • Energy market data from ElectraLink highlights growth in solar and battery storage exports to GB distribution networks, as well as growing amount of variable generation, compared to dispatchable generation
  • Further information on exports, switching, and flexibility consumer types to be released at the Flexible Futures report conference on 24 October 2019

The REA and ElectraLink have found that battery storage exports to GB distribution networks rose to nearly 49GWh in 2018, up from 50MWh in 2014.

Solar photovoltaic (PV) exports also rose from 194GWh in 2012 to a staggering 8TWh in 2018.

The REA and ElectraLink identified these increases from energy market data provided by ElectraLink’s Energy Market Data Hub (EMDH).

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.

This data forms part of the Flexible Futures report, which the REA and ElectraLink have collaborated on to draw a roadmap for the next decade in GB’s energy landscape.


Daniel Brown, Policy Manager at the REA said:

“We are pleased to be collaborating with ElectraLink to bring this crucial industry data to the public realm. Given industry discussions taking place presently about flexibility markets, subsidy-free renewables and energy storage deployment, and achieving Net Zero, we hope it will add timely nuance to the debate.

“A full package of data pertaining to exports to the distribution networks, smart meters and renewable energy suppliers switching, will be released at an industry conference on the 24th October in London. We hope to see you there.”


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.”


Richard Molloy, Business Development Manager for Energy Storage at Eaton said:

“Eaton are delighted to be sponsoring this ground-breaking study examining previously unavailable data sets to help understand what is really going on at the distribution system level.

“It is encouraging to see the growing contribution of variable renewables and flexible dispatchable generation exports to the distribution network but it is also clear that more is needed to encourage the development of a truly open and transparent market to spur private investment in the flexibility technologies that will be required to ease the transition to a high-renewable energy future, and to ensure Great Britain decarbonises in line with Net Zero commitments.”

Further data pertaining to distribution-level exports, supplier switching, and smart meters, plus discussion about the development of flexibility in GB, will take place at an industry conference on the 24th October 2019 in London.

For the first time, the REA and ElectraLink will publicly release data covering the extent of exports to distribution networks in Great Britain between 2012 and 2018. The data, collected, held and analysed by ElectraLink will be available to the industry to assist developers, manufactures, policymakers and networks in their planning.

The REA believes that the more data is available, the better equipped stakeholders will be to have discussions about future clean energy deployment. This emerges with the growth of industry debate on the impact of grid charges, RIIO2, and ‘subsidy-free’ solar and storage sites.


For more information or to request an interview, please contact:

Daniel Brown
Policy Manager
+44 (0)20 7981 0862
[email protected]

Notes to editors

  • A full suite of distribution-level export data will be released at the Flexible Futures conference on the 24th October 2019 in London, tickets are available. Details here:
  • Complementary passes are available for those who are a representative of a media or public sector organisation – please email us for details.
  • The dataset, derived from the Data Transfer Service (DTS) managed by ElectraLink, runs between 2012 and 2019
  • ElectraLink was created in 1998 by the energy industry to provide an independent, secure and low-cost service to transfer data between the participants in the deregulated GB electricity market. This resulted in the formation of the DTS. For more information, visit
  • The DTS is a regulated service owned by the energy industry, for the benefit of the energy industry. It is used to share essential business process data on a 24/7/365 basis by over 270 electricity and gas parties across Great Britain. The DTS underpins the competitive UK energy market, enabling participants to work together to exchange information about customers. This information interchange facilitates a wide range of business-critical processes including how energy is paid for by suppliers (settlement), change of supplier and metering. In 2012, ElectraLink was granted permission to access the data that is transferred across the DTS under the governance of the Data Transfer Services Agreement (DTSA) to monitor and identify trends in the energy market, improve transparency and provide insight into the challenges and opportunities faced by the industry.
  • The data ElectraLink holds is based on billions of messages flowing across the DTS that require significant data processing in order to organise the data and leverage its value for the industry. Industry processes are mapped and refined into datasets by ElectraLink to provide clear analysis on industry process activities at a meter point (associated with an address) level. These processes include (but are not limited to) switching supplier, registering energy consumption (including Supplier Volume Allocation (SVA) registered generation) and managing site activities such as meter installations and site visits. ElectraLink is the only central source that has access to the data flows that underpin these processes.
  • This data, as it only covers exports to the distribution network, may not encompass all battery storage and solar-related activity. This is because a significant amount of battery storage activity is likely driven by maximizing self-consumption of onsite generation or providing price arbitrage services in commercial and industrial locations behind the meter. Solar that is self-consumed and not exported to the grid would also not be seen by the DTS.


  • Exports – The amount of generation from a site supplied onto the grid network, either at Transmission or Distribution level. This report covers exports to the Distribution network.
  • Dispatchable generation – electricity generation from sources that are more dispatchable, such as fuelled technologies that are easier to ramp up or down in terms of exports.
  • Variable generation – electricity generation from sources that are influenced by weather patterns, such as those from the wind or sun.
  • Distribution network – medium and low-voltage electricity network infrastructure, managed by six regulated monopoly Distribution Network Operators in GB.

About the Renewable Energy Association (REA)

The REA is the UK’s largest trade association for renewable energy and clean technologies with around 550 members operating across heat, transport, and power. The REA is a not-for-profit organisation that represents renewable energy and clean technology companies operating in over fourteen sectors, ranging from biogas and renewable fuels to solar and electric vehicle charging. Membership ranges from major multinationals to sole traders.

For more information, visit: