Press Release on CLCF report on Energy Storage Technology

Energy Storage could play a vital role in helping the UK  meet its 2050 climate targets says new study from The Centre for Low Carbon Futures

The study, ‘Pathways for Energy Storage in the UK, launched today at the Royal Society by The Centre for Low Carbon Futures (CLCF) shows that storage of electricity and heat could be the hidden gem for our future management of energy as we increase renewable power generation and manage peak demand.

That means a huge opportunity for British research and industry at home and abroad as we develop new technologies that are critical both in the UK and in emerging economies. Despite being under-represented in UK scenarios on decarbonisation, energy storage could actually be crucial in helping achieve a cost effective, low carbon energy system - by improving utilisation of generation assets, avoiding investment required in transmission and distribution networks and reducing investment in back up generation.

There is also emerging evidence that decentralised storage options, on the distribution network or in people's homes, could offer most value to the energy system.

The UK's ambitious greenhouse gas reduction targets to 2050 require a rapid de-carbonisation of the energy system. The roll out of the Green Deal, increased use of wind power, electrification of heat and transport and other policy measures will bring about a dramatic fall in use of fossil fuels (from 90% today to as low as 13% by 2050) increasing our dependence on renewable energy and electricity. These developments will put a huge pressure on the UK’s ageing National Grid making it more challenging to match supply and demand. As a result there is likely to be a greater emphasis on the potential for directly storing electricity and heat.

Stimulated by a series of joint British Sino workshops on Energy Storage Technologies and Policy, led by Professor Richard Williams from the Royal Academy of Engineering and Professor Li Jinghai, VP of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, CLCF commissioned this research with the aim of addressing some of the issues surrounding energy storage technology. The report was led by Peter Taylor at The University of Leeds with contributions from the University of Sheffield and the University of Birmingham.

The authors call for a more joined up plan for energy storage which is consistent with developments in the wider energy system:

“Many different technologies can provide electricity and heat storage but their future prospects are clouded by a range of technical, economic, regulatory and social uncertainties. There is an urgent need to clarify the long-term vision for the role of energy storage and this might best be achieved through a UK roadmap that brings together inputs from relevant stakeholders, including government, researchers, business, regulators and representatives from civil society” said lead author, Peter Taylor from the University of Leeds

Centre for Low Carbon Futures director Jon Price said: “The UK needs to take a whole systems approach to the future design of an upgraded electricity network considering our planned energy mix, interconnects with European neighbours and the deployment of energy technologies for appropriate demand response times and locations.

The huge investment made in renewable wind energy and the surrounding public controversy will have little value until we can resolve some of these energy storage questions. The good news is that in the UK we have a wealth of home grown technology opportunities as valuable to us as they are to emerging economies, providing an exciting and new opportunity for UK research and industry”.

Richard Williams, Royal Academy of Engineering, and University of Birmingham, a key contributor to the study said:  “Future scenarios indicate that energy storage is essential to reduce the burden on the electricity network. The use of electric vehicles and ground source pumps in domestic use will increase demand very substantially and intolerably on our grid. Storage is not an option but a necessity”.

Anthony Price, Director of the Electricity Storage Network said “The case for electricity storage is now proven. We have technologies ready to be installed on our electricity networks.  The task is to accelerate  deployment of electricity storage through certainty for investment and support for  storage comparable to support for  other green technologies. .


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