Engineers slam UK government for ‘scant and ill-designed’ energy storage policies

The UK government has been accused of failing to provide sufficient support for electricity storage technologies by the Institution of Mechanical Engineers.

The institution’s head of energy, Tom Fox, said the need for energy storage was urgent “as the UK ramps up its dependence on power generation from intermittent renewable energy sources like wind”.

He added: “For too long we’ve been reliant on using expensive ‘back-up’ fossil-fuel plants to cope with the inherent intermittency of many renewables. Electricity storage is potentially cleaner and once fully developed is likely to be much cheaper.”

But he said government incentives and policies to support the development and deployment of electricity storage technologies are “scant and ill-designed” and claimed that the potential value of storage to the UK power network is “not well understood by Westminster”.

The UK currently has 2800 MW of electricity storage capacity in the form of pumped hydro-electric storage. According to the country’s transmission operator National Grid, it will need  8000 MW of electricity storage capacity by 2025 if the penetration of wind power in the network is 30 per cent.

In a policy statement issued today, the institution calls on the government to adopt three recommendations:

• Carry out a detailed analysis to estimate the realistic requirements for electricity storage across the whole UK power system and its corresponding value to the nation;

• Develop policy frameworks that reward the value of electricity storage in the UK’s power markets;

• Encourage and support UK development of storage technologies for exploitation in world markets by advancing the commercial-scale demonstration of electricity storage technologies in the UK, thereby creating technical value that UK companies can export overseas.

 

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