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Energy Insight: Energy storage - battery technologies

Since the discovery of electricity, we have sought effective methods to store that energy for use on demand. Over the last century, the energy storage industry has continued to evolve and adapt to changing energy requirements and advances in technology.

Energy storage systems provide a wide array of technological approaches to managing our power supply in order to create a more resilient energy infrastructure and bring cost savings to utilities and consumers.

Solid state batteries - a range of electrochemical storage solutions, including advanced chemistry batteries and capacitors. Advances in technology and materials have increased reliability and capacity of modern batteries and reduced cost.

Fuel cells - a cell that produces an electric current directly from a chemical reaction.

Flow-batteries - batteries where the energy is stored directly in the electrolyte solution for longer cycle life, and quick response times.

This chart shows UK electricity generation by source in 2015. Of the total, almost 35% is generated in a way that depends not on demand but on the form of generation: wind and solar do not supply to order whilst nuclear cannot easily be turned on or off to cope with changes in demand.


Benefits of battery storage

Battery storage solutions allow you to store excess electricity generated by, for example, solar, wind or nuclear plants system throughout the day or when the wind is blowing at an optimum speed in order to make use of it during the evenings when demand is high or during periods of low generation. This effectively bridges the gap between peak generation and peak demand that is common in the case of many renewable generation systems by storing excess electricity for use during peak hours.

Further reading

Charles Bond. Victoria Yao. Battery technologies - the way forward. Gowling - WLG 5 September 2017. News that the UK has pledged to ban the sale of petrol and diesel cars by 2040 has put a feather in the cap of the electric car industry on the back of claims that charging cars and vans from the grid, like a laptop or phone, is sure to be cleaner than petrol or diesel power.

BEIS. Business Secretary to establish UK as world leader in battery technology as part of modern Industrial Strategy. Business Secretary Greg Clark announces the launch of the £246 million Faraday Challenge to boost expertise in battery technology. 24 July 2017. 

Could a battery power your home or business?   Daily Telegraph. 8 March 2017. Partly as a result of the large sums of money being pumped into battery research, companies are investing in the development of energy-storage options which has implications for the way in which homes and businesses are powered.

Emily Gosden. How Britain will keep the lights on Daily Telegraph. 26 August 2016. Eight new battery storage projects are to be built around the UK to help keep power supplies stable as more wind and solar farms are built. These will use lithium ion batteries with a combined capacity of 200 MW under a new scheme to help balance supply and demand within seconds

Warner, Jeremy. Old energy order draws to a close amid battery storage revolutionDaily Telegraph. 4 March 2017

Holy Grail of energy policy in sight as battery technology smashes the old order. Daily Telegraph. 10 August 2016

Rob Matheson. Doubling battery power of consumer electronics: New lithium metal batteries could make smartphones, drones, and electric cars last twice as long.
MIT News. August 16, 2016

James Murray. UK energy storage tipped to exceed 1.6GW by 2020. Business Green. 16 January 2016

Battery storage: Positive outlook? The Energyst. August/September 2016

Some organisations involved in energy storage

20MW by 2020. The Electricity Storage Network. An industry group for companies and organisations active in the design, use and research of electricity storage for network connected applications.

C-Tech Innovation. A research and development group  covering a wide range of  activities in collaboration with hundreds of researchers around the world.  This includes battery technology, fuel cells and flow batteries.

The Energy Storage AssociationA US Trade Association for companies involved in the development and use of energy storage technologies including solid state batteries

Books on battery storage available in hard copy from the EI library

Scrosati, Bruno, et al (Eds)  Advances in battery technologies for electric vehicles    

Larminie, J Lowry, J   Electric vehicle technology explained

IEA Prospects for hydrogen and fuel cells

The fuel cell today

Grantham Briefing paper: Electrical energy storage for mitigating climate change

Energy Insight details

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