Pathways for Energy Storage in the UK

In January 2013, the Rt Hon David Willetts MP, Minister of State for Universities and Science, picked out energy storage as one of eight "great technologies" for the UK, putting forward £30 million "to create dedicated R&D facilities to develop and test new grid-scale storage technologies, helping the UK capitalise on its considerable excess energy production, saving money and reducing the national carbon footprint."  ~Jonathan Radcliffe, Ingenia.

Picture: The impact of storage on CO2 emissions with 40GW wind capacity 

Despite its potential importance, energy storage has so far been under-represented when modelling and planning a low carbon future. There are many potential technologies, but little analysis of their economic viability and possible role in future energy systems. The current political and economic framework also fails to encourage innovation or investment in energy storage systems. There is therefore an urgent need for more research on refining the technologies, considering who should pay and determining the best mix of storage methods to meet our energy needs. The unmet demand for this work creates a huge opportunity for British research and industry both at home and abroad.

The Centre for Low Carbon Futures' pioneering report, Pathways for Energy Storage in the UK, provides an introduction and overview of some of the technology options. Currently, pumped hydroelectric storage accounts for 99% of global electrical energy storage (not counting fossil fuels), but this kind of centralised, large-scale storage is relatively slow to provide energy. The electrochemical, electrical, thermal or mechanical technologies currently under development provide much more flexibility.

Picture: The suitability of different energy storage technologies for grid-scale applications

CLCF has followed this research with a detailed analytical report of one of the most promising new energy vectors and its potential applications: Liquid Air in the Energy and Transport Systems. This was launched at the Royal Academy of Engineering in 2013. 

In tandem with the report, a number of factsheets documenting the storage options available were created and are available here.

Latest news

9th September, 2014
New nuclear event at British Science Festival
14th July, 2014
Energy storage report launch at Chatham House
11th July, 2014
Joint CLCF and University of Birmingham article in The Conversation