UK scientific community must lead world in energy storage technology

Chancellor George Osborne said today that urgent action is needed to ensure the UK establishes itself as an international focus for energy storage research and innovation.

In his speech to the Royal Society today, Osborne stressed the need to find better ways to store the nation’s electricity adding that a greater capability is crucial for power sources, such as electric car batteries, to be viable.

He called for the UK’s scientific community to “accelerate translation of research” into new technologies and products so that global market opportunities can be realised by UK companies.

Explaining the need for greater energy storage capacity, Osborne said it promises savings on the UK’s energy spend of up to £10bn a year by 2050 as extra capacity for peak load would become less necessary.

Osborne said: “Electricity demand peaks at around 60 Giga Watts, whilst we have a grid capacity of around 80 Giga Watts – but storage capacity of around just 3 Giga Watts”.

He went on to challenge the scientific community to lead the world in eight technologies, to spread the economic and social benefits of scientific research.

Technologies include The Big Data Revolution and energy efficient computing, synthetic biology; regenerative medicine; agri-science; energy storage; advanced materials; robotics and autonomous systems and satellites and commercial applications of space.

The Chancellor’s decision to prioritise technologies that aim to tackle environmental issues will be well received by the green sector, particularly after the Government received heavy criticism for neglecting green issues in the wake of the economic downturn.

In early October, more than 50 organisations and businesses called for the Government to introduce a power sector carbon target to dispel uncertainties in the British energy market.

In the same week, environmental lobbyists were shocked to hear that Osborne endorsed shale gas in the UK.

The Government consulted on a new tax regime for shale gas so that Britain was not “left behind as gas prices tumble on the other side of the Atlantic.”

Leigh Stringer

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