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Sluggish energy storage developments could cost taxpayer billions



Delaying improvements in the UK’s capacity to store energy could cost taxpayers as much as £10 billion a year, according to an industry campaign group.

The Electricity Storage Network (ESN) has warned that unless an additional 2 gigawatts (GW) of electricity storage is installed by 2020, taxpayers and investors could be hit with massive costs.

“Any system without electricity storage is an inefficient system”, explained Anthony Price, director of the ESN.

“Electricity storage reducing the level of electrical infrastructure required which, in turn, lowers the cost of operating the whole system and, ultimately, leads to lower electricity costs.”

The ESN says that the UK must add a minimum of 2GW – equivalent to 3% of the UK’s peak electricity demand – of installed energy capacity every year between now and the end of the decade to boost investment in generation capacity and power grid infrastructure.

It also claims that the UK’s current storage capacity is less than half of what is needed to balance the onset of low-carbon technologies onto the grid.

The ESN’s comments came after the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) announced the winners of its energy storage competition.

Two British companies – REDT UK Ltd and Moixa Technology Ltd – were awarded a share of contracts worth over £5m to encourage innovation in energy storage.

REDT UK Ltd has developed technology that stores electricity from wind turbines. Moixa Energy Ltd meanwhile has worked on small battery-based storage units that could be used in homes to store power and re-use it at times of peak demand.

Energy and climate change minister Lady Verma said the investment “will give these organisations the boost they need to develop energy storage designs, helping cut costs and bringing new technologies to market in this sector.”

The ESN congratulated the two winners, but warned that much more needed to be done, as these two projects represented a combined capacity of less than 10 megawatts (MW).

However, Price said that the achievement of the prizewinners was a step in the right direction.

“Big trees from little acorns grow. If you don’t demonstrate what’s possible, then people will continue to wait – it’s extremely important to start somewhere, and that’s exactly the same with other green areas”, he said.

“Whilst this specific award won’t directly contribute to the 2GW target, the prize and recognition is an indicator that REDT and Moixa will be able to rapidly scale up their technologies for the future.”

Further reading:

UK tech companies to explore green manufacturing in China

Technology: Let’s make this country the best

UK begins pioneering Europe’s largest energy storage battery

Bill Gates joins investors in renewable energy storage firm

Energy storage is here, and it’s waiting to be unleashed