Government boost for new renewable energy storage technologies in UK

innovation

Nearly £7 million has been awarded to turbocharge UK projects that are developing innovative energy storage technologies, in the first round of government-backed competition.

The intermittent nature of renewables like solar and wind power means that energy can be produced when it is not needed, such as during extended periods of high wind. However, as new technologies are developed, this energy can be stored for longer, helping manage electricity generation variations and increasing resilience, while also maximising value for money.

24 projects based across the UK have been awarded the first round of funding through the Longer Duration Energy Storage competition (LODES), which is worth £68 million in total. These projects will benefit from a share of over £6.7 million to develop new energy storage technologies that can utilise stored energy as heat, electricity, or as a low-carbon energy carrier like hydrogen. Ranging from the development of thermal batteries to converting energy to hydrogen, they have been selected because of their potential to improve technical performance and reduce the cost of meeting net zero. Successful projects could benefit from a greater tranche of funding from a second phase of the competition, which will support these projects towards commercialisation, encouraging private investment and creating new jobs.

Energy and Climate Change Minister Greg Hands said: “Driving forward energy storage technologies will be vital in our transition towards cheap, clean and secure renewable energy. It will allow us to extract the full benefit from our home-grown renewable energy sources, drive down costs and end our reliance on volatile and expensive fossil fuels. Through this competition, we are making sure the country’s most innovative scientists and thinkers have our backing to make this ambition a reality.”

Among the energy storage projects receiving funding include Sunamp’s EXTEND project in East Lothian, Scotland. It will receive £149,893 for a feasibility study to further develop the storage duration of their thermal batteries, and they are looking to pair their heat batteries with household energy systems to tackle periods of low renewables generation on the grid

Andrew Bissell, chief executive officer at Sunamp said: “For the past decade, we have focused on decarbonising hot water and have delivered a world-beating 20,000 heat batteries using our phase change material into the market so far, and we are now bringing forward our Central Bank products for heat. Our thermal storage technology can be combined with heat pumps to deliver more than twice as much heat per unit of electricity on demand than direct electric heating. This funding will accelerate how we can further enhance thermal storage duration, working with wind energy from the grid and solar PV in homes, to provide heat and water during extended intervals of low renewables generation when green power is not available on the grid, eventually reducing the overall cost of operation to be lower than gas.”

Larry Zulch, chief executive officer at Invinity, said: “The LODES initiatives are yet another demonstration of the UK’s commitment to building a thriving low carbon economy. Invinity greatly appreciates BEIS’s vision for that future, especially the vital role that safe, reliable, and robust long-duration energy storage has to play on a Net Zero UK electric grid. In realising that vision, we are tremendously pleased to be working with BEIS, Pivot Power, and EDF to plan the deployment of a vanadium flow battery eight times the size of the one currently operating at Energy Superhub Oxford.”

The funding represents a key step towards supporting the development and commercialisation of innovative energy storage technologies, in turn supporting the UK’s transition to relying on renewables, while also encouraging private investment and new green jobs.

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