UK’s energy storage revolution happening faster than expected, study finds
Planning permission applications to install energy storage facilities in the UK have quadrupled since 2016, with a massive increase in capacity expected in the next few years.
That is according to new research by trade bodies RenewableUK and the Solar Trade Association (STA), which have this week unveiled a database on 400 of the nation’s existing and planned energy storage projects.
Published on Monday (5 November), the database reveals that UK applications for storage portfolios totalled just 2MW of capacity in 2012, soaring to a cumulative total of 6,874MW in 2018. More than 300 UK-based firms are now estimated to be involved in this growing market.
The database also documents technological improvements in the storage sector, with the average capacity of new battery projects standing at 27MW in 2018, compared to 10MW in 2016.
Overall, the UK is now home to 3.3GW of storage capacity, with planning consent handed to projects totalling a further 5.4.GW of capacity. Of these upcoming projects, 4.8GW is accounted for by battery storage, according to the database.
“The energy sector is breaking new ground by making an unprecedented transition to a clean, flexible system which will power our country in the future,” RenewableUK’s director Emma Pinchbeck said.
“Energy storage is already playing a key part in that, from small local projects to grid-scale schemes. We’re decentralising the way the power system works and an increased share of wind, solar and storage on the grid could transform UK energy markets.”
Battery storage boon
The global energy storage market will double six times by 2030 to reach 125GW, according to Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF).
Domestically, the early signs are encouraging, with the UK’s largest storage portfolio carried out in June by UK Power Reserve and energy storage firm Fluence.
However, financing challenges persist. Energy market analyst Aurora Energy Research recently published a report claiming that more than £6bn will need to be invested in the UK’s energy storage market by 2030 if the nation is to decarbonise at the rate necessary to meet legally-binding carbon targets.
Experts continue to warn that intermittency of wind and solar energy will create wildly varying outputs from renewable energy generation in the UK by 2040. It is thought that 13GW of additional storage and flexible generation assets is needed by 2030 to balance the grid as more renewable projects come online.
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