UK engineers call for support of electricity storage technologies

Posted at June 2, 2012 » By : » Categories : News » Comments Off on UK engineers call for support of electricity storage technologies

The UK Institution of Mechanical Engineers (IMechE) yesterday called for “urgent” support of electricity storage technologies, which are crucial to future supply and could put the country at the forefront of a $25 billion industry.

A policy statement issued by the Institution warns that the government is failing to provide sufficient support for electricity storage technologies, which will become increasingly necessary as more renewable generation capacity goes online.

To meet the UK’s EU renewable energy targets and its own climate change goals, the country is likely to become increasingly reliant on intermittent renewable energy sources.

But demand is also likely to double by 2050 as electricity is used to provide heating and power cars.

Currently, the UK has only 2800 MW of electricity storage capacity in the form of pumped hydro-electric storage, but National Grid estimates that some 8000 MW could be needed by 2025.

“For too long we’ve been reliant on using expensive ‘back-up’ fossil-fuel plants to cope with the inherent intermittency of many renewables,” says Tim Fox, head of energy and environment at IMechE.

Electricity storage technologies will be key to providing consumers with renewable electricity whenever it is needed, saving on costs by not having to pay for excess ‘dumped’ energy or unnecessary infrastructure, he adds.

“Electricity storage is potentially cleaner and once fully developed is likely to be much cheaper,” says Fox.

But the statement warns that current government policies supporting the development of storage technologies are “scant and ill-designed”.

“The potential value of storage to the UK power network is at present not well understood by Westminster,” says Fox.

IMechE wants to see the government carry out a detailed analysis of the UK’s electricity storage requirements and develop a policy framework to reward the provision of storage capacity.

If the UK can advance the commercial-scale demonstration of electricity storage technologies, it could launch itself into a billion-dollar export market as well, says the Institution.

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Related stories:
Energy storage technology gets a boost in US and UK (16-Apr)
US policymakers should focus on energy storage, says report (17-Nov 2010)
UK’s Energy Technologies Institute looks to solve storage problem (5-Aug 2010)

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