The green energy sector is booming, and with the global push towards net-zero emissions, the focus on renewable energy sources is more important than ever. Energy storage companies in the UK are working rapidly and diligently to implement efficient and reliable energy storage solutions to complement intermittent renewable energy generation. Here we’ll explore some of the innovative approaches and technologies being developed to address the challenges and opportunities in energy storage in the UK.
Balancing renewables with UK energy storage
The nature of renewable energy sources, such as solar and wind power, relies heavily on environmental variables, making their energy output inconsistent. To reduce dependence on non-renewable sources, the UK needs to invest in energy storage solutions. Phil Thompson, CEO of Balance Power, estimates that Europe and the UK may require up to 1 TWh of energy storage. With less than 2 GWh currently available, there’s significant room for growth in the UK energy storage sector. Companies like Invinity Energy Systems, SynchroStor, Gravitricity Ltd, Sunamp, Caldera, Corre Energy, and Cheesecake Energy Ltd are all working on commercial, residential, and development trial solutions across a number of different storage mediums and durations, that could help achieve this target.
Large-scale storage projects in the UK
One exciting development in UK energy storage is the launch of the country’s largest storage scheme, with an installed capacity of 900 MW and up to 33,000 MWh. Developed by Gilkes Energy Ltd, the Earba Storage Project in Scotland will use a pumped storage hydro system design to serve over 700,000 homes per year. This innovative project demonstrates how natural water storage and clever design can increase energy storage in the UK while blending seamlessly into the landscape.
Policy and long-duration energy storage (LDES) in the UK
More investment and policy support are needed to achieve net-zero emissions by 2035. The UK government is reportedly considering introducing policies around LDES by the end of next year. LDES is crucial for balancing the intermittency of renewable energy sources in the UK grid. The Department for Energy Security and Net Zero will need to evaluate how Contracts for Difference can be more effective for long-term lifecycle investments in projects ranging from large-scale pumped hydro schemes to grid battery installations.
Critically greater definition will need to be brought to exactly what constitues Short, Medium and Long-term storage, what the grid reauriements are for them and in what ratio we need them, at national, regional and district levels. Interestingly thermal energy storage systems from the likes of Sunamp and Caldera, will potential allow the capture and movement of exces or waste industrial heat, to be taker elsewhere to be utilised, e.g. a district heat network. This flexibility of short-medium thermal storage could have a vital role to play alongside larger long duration schemes, generally aimed of national grid level requirements.
Repurposing abandoned mines for energy storage in the UK
The UK is estimated to have around 405,000 abandoned mines, presenting both health and safety risks as well as untapped potential for energy storage. Genex Power in Australia is exploring the possibility of turning old mines into pumped storage hydro systems, allowing excess energy to be stored for later use. This innovative approach could help overcome energy storage challenges, create jobs, and use existing environments instead of imposing further changes.
Embracing a sustainable future with UK energy storage solutions
The future of energy storage in the UK holds great promise, with a number of innovative solutions in development by energy storage companies. By investing in energy storage technologies, supporting policies that encourage their adoption, and capitalising on opportunities like repurposing abandoned mines, the UK can continue its journey towards a greener, more sustainable future.