UK’s energy storage pipeline passes 16GW

The UK has more than 16GW of battery storage capacity planned across more than 700 projects, with the technology emerging as a key enabler of the net-zero target, new research has revealed.

UK’s energy storage pipeline passes 16GW

In 2012

RenewableUK’s latest Energy Storage Project Intelligence research, published last week, reveals that 16.1GW of battery storage capacity is either operating, under construction or is being planned in the UK. The capacity is spread across 729 projects.

Currently, the UK boasts 1.1GW of operational battery storage capacity – up from 0.7GW in December 2019. A further 0.6GW is under construction, while 8.3GW has been giving planning consent and 1.6GW are in the planning system. An additional 4.5GW have been identified as early-stage development projects for future planning submissions.

RenewableUK’s director of future electricity systems Barnaby Wharton said: “There’s no doubt that the energy storage market will continue to grow as we scale up using a variety of innovative technologies – not just lithium batteries but also flywheels, compressed air, liquid air and gravity-based storage. This cutting-edge technology is another example of how the UK is a world leader in building modern power systems.

“However, many of our projects need access to capital at a lower cost and more stable revenues. We’re hoping that the forthcoming update to the Smart System and Flexibility Plan will set out how the Government envisages making revenue streams for storage projects clearer. We also need a stable network charging regime and a long-term vision for the sector to encourage further investment by cutting-edge companies”.     

In December 2019, RenewableUK claimed that energy storage capacity in the UK sat at 10.5GW across 600 projects. In 2012, the total capacity of applications stood at just 2MW.

The organisation also notes that an additional 6GW of energy storage is operating, under construction or being planned from liquefied and compressed air, pumped hydro, flywheels and gravity-based technologies. This brings the UK’s total energy storage portfolio capacity to more than 22GW.

As a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, the global energy storage sector has been growing far more slowly than expected during 2020. Investment in the global energy storage sector fell in the first half of 2020 for the first time in a decade, according to the IEA. The Agency is warning that energy storage uptake is now too slow to be aligned with the Paris Agreement.

The UK Government’s response to date has focussed on larger scale arrays; BEIS moved in summer to ease planning restrictions for utility-scale batteries, permitting cells over 50MW in England and arrays over 350MW in Wales.

Additionally, the National Grid ESO has claimed that the emergence and integration of new technologies mean that a zero-carbon electricity grid by 2025 would be feasible.

Matt Mace

Comments (2)

  1. Andy Kadir-Buxton says:

    If we use sodium batteries for storage we are saving scarce lithium for vehicles because it is lighter. Heavier storage batteries would not be a problem. The weight of the sodium is not going to be as heavy as the battery itself.

  2. Lawrence Rose says:

    Unfortunately this article – like the Renewable UK one to which it refers – includes a fundamental error. The figures such as 16GW should actually say 16GWh, i.e. provide 16GW for 1 hour.

    In fact, for batteries – and according to the National Grid’s published plans – in 2030 the power from batteries will be something above 8GW in total with a storage capacity of under 12 GWh, so even if all of the storage capacity of 16 GWh were achieved by then, batteries would only provide about 8GW for less than a couple of hours.

    With wind lulls of many hours leaving deficits of tens of GW (CCGT gas capacity will have been halved and coal will have been eliminated) batteries will not make much of an impact.

    I’m not in favour of burning fossil fuels – quite the opposite.

    But I am in favour of plans that could actually work. Making all those batteries and then discovering that we have wasted the resources would seem particularly foolish, as we can already see that they won’t do the job.

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