Energy Storage: The Missing Link in the UK's Energy Commitments

In this report we highlight the need for the Westminster and Holyrood governments to prioritise the development and deployment of energy storage technologies if they are ever to meet energy targets.

In recognition of the need to enable an increase in the deployment of renewable energy systems in the UK, and the importance of heat and transport energy demand alongside that for electricity, we have produced this comprehensive review of energy storage technologies.

The report also provides a comprehensive review of current energy storage technologies for electricity, heat and transport, and highlights the need for a broader spectrum of consideration and understanding in how these can be used to meet our future energy needs and targets.

Key recommendations

  1. The government needs to focus on heat and transport, as well as electricity.
    It is well understood that security of supply is crucial and that decarbonisation of the UK energy system is desirable, but in contrast to past thinking it should not be confined to simply having sufficient electricity generating capacity to ‘keep the lights on’.

    With a growing amount of the UK’s fossil fuel supplies being imported, and rapidly increasing global competition for remaining resources, it is in the national interest to utilise freely available indigenous renewable resources for heat and transportation as well as electricity generation.

    The government needs to work with the engineering community to develop new and innovative systems that include energy storage to cope with the intermittency and seasonality challenges that these renewable sources present.
  2. The government must recognise that energy storage cannot be incentivised by conventional market mechanisms.
    It is unlikely that the nation’s long-term decarbonisation objectives will be met without significant deployment of energy storage capability, yet there are no plans in the UK for significant levels of energy storage.

    To date very little public investment has been made in research, development and demonstrator activity and, as yet, there is no existing or proposed incentivisation scheme for energy storage deployment. In order to stimulate the sector and ensure that the UK has the capability to deliver energy storage, as well as exploit emerging export opportunities, new public finance and business models are required to fund this key element of the nation’s future energy system.

    The government must lead the way for industry by developing a clear roadmap for the development, demonstration and deployment of energy storage in the UK and create an energy storage shop window to the world.
  3. The UK must reject its obsession with cheapness in the energy sector.
    Despite current concern over rapidly increasing energy costs, and the reactive political promises that are unlikely to be fulfilled, it is evident that whatever form of energy is used in the UK, costs will have to continue to rise into the future.

    In comparison with other European countries, the UK has for decades focused on keeping energy prices artificially low, which has led to over-consumption of energy, while the necessary demand-side reduction measures have not been put in place. This attitude must change and an alternative culture developed which recognises the value of energy and drives sustainable change in the nation’s energy system.


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