IMechE Report - Energy Storage: The Missing Link in the UK’S Energy Commitments

Posted: April 10, 2014 - 09:00 / IMechE / Reports

Energy storage provides a potential route to a solution to this challenge, in that it would enable wrong-time electricity generated from intermittent renewable sources to be put to use at times when consumer demand is higher than baseload provision and renewables supply is at low levels. It would also help to address the seasonal challenge. In this regard consumer demand for power and heat is typically higher in the winter months than in the summer, and longer-term storage would allow energy from renewable sources to be carried over from one season to the next. The use of energy storage in both these ways would allow greater returns on investment to be made from deployed renewable energy technologies. Other benefits from storing energy in the UK can include deferring the costs associated with upgrading energy distribution systems to supply expanding towns and urban areas, as well as allowing communities to become more self-sufficient in energy sourcing and management.

In recognition of the need to enable an increase in the deployment of renewable energy systems in the UK, and the importance of heat and transport energy demand alongside that for electricity, the Institution of Mechanical Engineers has produced this comprehensive review of storage technologies. In addition to understanding the possible applications, advantages, disadvantages, state of development, availability and sustainability of each of the technologies, it is important to know what needs to change to motivate the further development and deployment of such systems. In this regard, the first step is for UK Government to work closely with industry to produce a roadmap for energy storage to achieve its full potential, not only in terms of its contribution to achieving the nation’s emissions reductions, but also in unlocking overseas export potential for UK technology and engineering. Such a roadmap should, in addition to electricity applications, consider heat and transport.