Tenfold requirement for UK energy storage

Great Britain will need at least 30GW of energy storage if it hopes to reach net zero by 2050, according to new research

The analysis, produced by Imperial College for energy giant Drax’s Energy Insights paper, states that as intermittent generation from renewables like wind and solar grows, the country will have to increase its storage capacity tenfold. 

As efforts to decarbonise power continue, Britain is likely to source 70-80 per cent of its power from wind and solar power by 2050. Storage will be needed to balance the peaks and troughs created by such generation, with the majority of power generated in the middle of the day and the highest demand in the evening generally.

The analysis looked at 28 scenarios from 24 independent studies and how they forecast renewables growth, and the following need for storage. It showed that within these 70-80 per cent renewable scenarios, GB would require storage capacity of around a third of peak electricity demand.

At the moment, on average renewables make up a quarter of the country’s electricity mix, according to the analysis. With each unit of intermittent power added though, an additional 0.2 units of energy storage capacity will be needed to keep the grid stable and the supply smooth.

This could be a huge challenge for GB, which currently only has 3GW of storage, but will need to increase it to 30GW.

The lead author Dr Iain Staffell said that storage stood to play a pivotal role in dictating the pace, scale and cost of the energy transition.

“Along with other technologies, such as interconnection and flexible generation, energy storage helps integrate more renewables onto the system, which makes it easier to manage the grid and enables greater decarbonisation at lowest cost.”

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