The role of energy storage and the part it will play in helping the UK reach its net-zero targets on carbon emissions by 2050 has been set out in a roadmap drawn up by researchers at the University of Birmingham, drawing on expert knowledge from across the energy sector.
The Energy Storage Roadmap, launched at a webinar attended by industry, academic and policy experts, assesses the role of energy storage in the UK’s future energy system over the next 10-15 years, and sets out how UK research and innovation can play a role in developing this system.
Achieving net-zero targets will depend on the growth of renewable energy sources such as wind and tidal power and the take-up of electric vehicles and heat pumps. Because the energy generated by the renewable sources varies, there is an increasing need for robust energy storage technologies – for both electricity and heat – which can keep energy systems stable and supply reliable.
Technologies that allow energy to be stored over hours, days and months have been recognised as essential in the Government’s Ten Point Plan for a Green Industrial Revolution. Developing these systems in a sustainable and integrated way is key to the transition to a low-carbon energy system.
To achieve these goals, the roadmap sets out a series of key recommendations to guide future research and policy priorities, including:
Strengthen research and development in electrochemical batteries. This includes building on existing strengths in electric vehicle battery research, as well as carrying out further work to assess the effects of battery degradation and other environmental effects.
Continue reforms to the electricity market and its regulation to enable energy storage technologies to compete in the marketplace.
Increase innovation support for large-scale energy storage technologies, including thermal and seasonal storage.
Invest in Electric Vehicle manufacturing in the UK, including supporting the development of a circular economy in this sector.
Ensure that policy and regulation keeps pace with technical innovation, in particular for the increasing integration of heat, power and transport.
Carry out systems analysis and modelling to improve understanding of the role that energy storage can play to meet the needs of future power generation.
Establish institutional competencies to allow energy storage to be operated across scales, whilst delivering a wider system benefit.
“Energy storage will play a critical role as we continue to integrate low-carbon energy systems” said Dr Jonathan Radcliffe, of the Energy Systems and Policy Analysis Group at the University of Birmingham. “In order to accelerate this transition, we need robust energy storage technologies and clear strategies for implementing them. This roadmap will be important for prioritising and guiding current and future activities.”
Professor David Elmes of Warwick Business School, who chaired the roadmap’s launch webinar, added that it’s great to see that the Energy Storage Research & Innovation Roadmap looks at electricity and heat together and that the seasonal demand for heat greatly exceeds the UK’s current electricity demand.
“A roadmap that covers multiple uses of energy is essential – heating, cooling, our current uses of electricity and also the rising demand as we electrify transport through EVs” Professor Elmes said.
The Energy Storage Roadmap was prepared by the Energy Systems and Policy Analysis Group at the University of Birmingham. It was supported by the Energy Superstore and the Supergen Energy Storage Network+, both funded by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (part of UK Research and Innovation).