Government urged to subsidise energy storage systems

If renewables are to become fully integrated into the UK's energy mix, the Government will have to incentivise energy storage systems through the introduction of subsidies, researchers from the University of East Anglia (UEA) have claimed.

Researchers have argued that as the growth of renewables continues to rise, so too does the potential impact of grid volatility. In order to combat this scenario, new research argues that energy storage systems should be supported by “gradually removing” subsidies used to establish “market mature” energy projects such as solar and wind, to be used to develop storage systems that could provide viable investment opportunities.

UEA’s senior lecturer and study lead Dr Konstantinos Chalvatzis said: “It is good to adjust subsidies for renewable energy technologies that have reached maturity, but you have to start thinking about subsidising storage, as this can take us to using 100% renewable energy sources.

“We need sufficient storage and more investment in storage systems in order for renewable energy to reach its full potential. Subsidies would encourage investment, which in turn would enable further integration of renewables into the energy sector.

“The fact that for some days countries such as Germany and Portugal are running their entire electricity network exclusively on renewable energy shows how far we have come to rely on it as a power source and this will continue to increase.” 

The study tested the concept of using energy storage systems to generate profits by utilising demand-side response initiatives to buy energy at low prices during low demand before selling excess generation when grids were straining under demand pressure.

The researchers found that these methods would be unable to justify increased energy storage investment due to a lack of extra revenue generation sources. The study, which focused on pumped hydro storage (PHS) and compressed air energy storage (CAES), concluded that combining the testing model with subsidies would trigger a market that could support renewable uptake and provide financial incentives.

Storage and balance

Energy storage is a concept that is beginning to make huge strides in mainstream market sectors. As well as Nissan unveiling an ambitious vehicle-to-grid energy storage system, energy giant E.ON has teamed up with a group of universities to create one of the largest and fastest energy storage facilities in the UK.

With energy storage systems potentially worth £2.4bn to UK electricity system savings by 2030, the National Grid has developed a new demand side response initiative aimed at stabilising the grid during a “summer of excess”.

Renewable Energy Systems (RES) will provide 20MW of frequency response to the national transmission network from battery storage for the first time in the UK, to help National Grid perform its system balancing role.

Matt Mace

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