UK 'must embrace energy storage'
Report says sector can help boost grid and economy, slash household bills
The next UK government must back energy storage to deliver a better deal for consumers and ensure the nation reaps the sector’s broader benefits, according to a report.
Phil Taylor, professor of electrical power systems at Newcastle University, said the sector is “a potential game-changer” for how we price energy. He added: “It can also provide many services to the grid to make the UK’s energy future more efficient, secure and lower in carbon emissions.”
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Researchers at Newcastle University found that smart grid technologies can help in part to reduce energy usage and could play a larger role if the UK’s convoluted energy market is simplified.
The team added that the UK has a “massive opportunity” to become a global leader in the sector but this will depend on the stance taken by the next government.
While the election manifestos of some parties have acknowledged the importance of energy storage, they have not said how energy storage will be deployed, nor addressed the market and regulations that hinder it.
The next government should, Taylor said, be aiming to make the price of energy reflect the current grid carbon mix and demand should be more flexible to match low carbon generation. Energy storage could be key to achieving this.
Taylor said: “If the government is serious about cutting energy prices it needs to address the bigger picture of energy usage through regulation and upgrade UK energy policy and infrastructure to deliver a new model for energy pricing that addresses inefficiency and ways to save energy.
“If energy storage was given its own asset class with accompanying rules for appropriate regulatory treatment, it could offer significant benefits to the UK’s energy network such as balancing supply with demand, reducing greenhouse gas emissions and hedging against fluctuating energy prices that lead to fuel poverty.”
There is also the possibility of providing feed-in tariffs or stimulus packages to reduce payback periods for energy storage, the researchers noted, in the same way they have been used to pay back solar panels or other forms of renewable energy generation more quickly.
Taylor said: “In the future countries that decarbonise the most rapidly will likely look more attractive for inward investment and places for businesses to setup.
“If the UK invests in energy storage now it will promote job creation, social development and the economy for years to come. As carbon becomes more expensive the investment in energy storage infrastructure will make the UK more competitive internationally.”
Image: report urges next UK government to back energy storage sector (FreeImages.com)