Urgent action needed to build out energy storage and bolster Britain’s energy security, Lords warn

Members of the House of Lords have berated the UK Government for neglecting to set out plans to drastically scale the nation’s energy storage capacity, which will be key if it is to meet its legally binding climate commitments while boosting energy security.

Urgent action needed to build out energy storage and bolster Britain’s energy security, Lords warn

Pictured: The Cruachan pumped hydro Power Station, Scotland. Image: Drax Group

Members of the House of Lords’ Science and Technology Committee have today (13 March) released a paper urging Ministers responsible with strategizing to deploy long-duration energy storage (LDES) to “get on with it”.

Committee Chair Baroness Brown said:  “Since 2023, the Government has had a Department for Energy Security and Net Zero (DESNZ). Long-duration energy storage is critical for ensuring the UK can have both, so it must be a key priority for the Department.

“The Government says it wants to deploy enough storage both to balance and to decarbonise the electricity system by 2035, but we are not on track. Long-duration energy storage facilities can take seven to ten years to build, so action is needed now to ensure the private sector sees a clear case to invest and to slash planning delays and grid connection queues if we are to have the required infrastructure in place by 2035.”

The report comes shortly after DESNZ stated its intention to support new gas power plants in the UK, positing this as a necessary move to maintain energy security as more renewables come online, due to the intermittent nature of renewable generation.

The Department did not mention energy storage in its media release confirming that decision on gas, aside from stating that battery energy storage could not be a standalone solution due to limits to storage capacities and timescales. Baroness Brown has called this “disappointing”.

A consultation on policymaking to build out Britain’s LDES was held by DESNZ earlier this year and the results are currently being collated and assessed in Westminster.

Members of the House of Lords’ Science and Technology Committee are warning that the UK will not be able to manage future energy supply crises in an affordable and low-carbon manner without a more strategic approach to energy storage.

The Committee is calling for Ministers to “urgently” act on the consultation responses, drawing up a commitment to a strategic energy reserve through LDES as part of a broader strategy.

This strategy, it recommends, should include an explicit minimum target for scaling LDES capacity from the 2.8GW that is operational at present. It should also clarify measures to incentivise private investment in the sector; fast-track the planning and connections process for LDES projects and set out preferred technology pathways, including pumped hydro and hydrogen.

Baroness Brown said: “Our report highlights the clear benefits of investing in long-duration storage, including energy and economic security, avoiding waste of renewable electricity, and allowing us to deploy more cheap renewable power, reducing customer bills. However, time is running out for the UK to secure that brighter future. The Government must take action now.”

Previous Government-commissioned research concluded that deploying 20GW of LDES capacity by 2030 could reduce running costs for Britain’s power system by up to £24bn. Avoided costs would predominantly stem from avoiding the curtailment of renewable generators and avoiding expensive last-minute imports.

Hydrogen innovation

In related news, gas transmission network operator National Gas is set to study an innovative new type of underground hydrogen energy storage developed by Edinburgh-based storage specialists Gravitricity.

Hydrogen can be used for long-term energy storage, such as seasonal and annual storage. It can be stored as a gas or as a liquid.

Gravitricity has developed a solution whereby up to 100 tonnes of pressurised hydrogen can be stored underground in a lined rock shaft. National Gas would like to pilot the technology next year and has this week announced funding from Ofgem’s Strategic Innovation Fund to conduct a feasibility study ahead of the trial.

Whether the pilot demonstrator will be deployed is contingent on the results of the study, plus the provision of additional funding from Ofgem.

Comments (1)

  1. Richard Phillips says:

    Elemental hydrogen does not occur naturally, it has to be manufactured, an energy adsorbing process.
    It is very “slippery” gas, and will find any leak in a container.
    Gravitricity have a difficult task on their hands in undertaking underground storage without big losses.

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