Business leaders have met with UK Energy Minister the Rt Hon Greg Hands MP to discuss how the government could unlock significant investment in vital energy storage technologies needed to decarbonise the power sector and help ensure greater energy independence.
The meeting was organised by the Long-Duration Electricity Storage Alliance, a new association of companies, progressing plans across a range of technologies to be first of their kind to be developed in the UK for decades.
He heard how decarbonising the UK’s electricity system by 2035 will require a range of flexible home-grown, long-duration energy storage (LDES) technologies to strengthen the contribution of cheap but variable renewables and deliver enhanced system stability. A recent report by Aurora showed that the UK may need an eight-fold increase in long-duration electricity storage capacity by 2035.
As such, LDES technologies will not only play a major role in significantly reducing the UK’s reliance on imported gas, and supporting the UK government’s ambitions to supercharge renewables, but they will also deliver massive efficiency gains to the UK grid – helping to lower consumer energy bills.
The Long-Duration Electricity Storage Alliance intends to work with the UK Government to unlock potential developments in new pumped storage hydro capacity and to accelerate the commercial deployment of exciting emerging technologies such as liquid air energy storage and flow batteries, to put the UK in the vanguard of LDES innovation.
Following the meeting, Greg Hands MP said:
“The Long-Duration Electricity Storage Alliance is a key part of our plan to get the full benefit from our world-class renewables sector. Government have already committed £68 million of funding toward the development of these technologies.
“This will support the UK as we shift towards domestically-produced renewable energy that will boost our energy security and create jobs and investment.”
Will Gardiner, Drax Group CEO said:
“Enough renewable electricity from wind to supply around a million UK homes is wasted each year, because there isn’t enough storage available to harness that power and ensure it is available when we need it. We cannot afford to allow that to continue, especially with current concerns around energy security.
“Drax has plans to invest £500m developing 600 MW of additional pumped storage hydro capacity at our Cruachan power station in the West of Scotland – a project which, with the right policies from government, will not only contribute to UK energy security, but also deliver around 1,000 jobs in rural areas during construction.”
Finlay McCutcheon, SSE Renewables, Director of Onshore Europe said:
“In response to the current situation in the energy markets, the UK needs to not only supercharge cheap renewables but also home-grown long-duration storage technologies to cost-effectively decarbonise the grid and reduce our dependence on imported gas.
“The swift introduction of an adapted Cap & Floor mechanism by government this year could unlock billions of pounds of investment in these vital technologies and create thousands of skilled jobs. As the UK’s clean energy champion, with our consented and shovel-ready 1,500 MW Coire Glas pumped storage project in the Scottish Highlands, we stand ready to play our part.”
Rupert Pearce, Highview Power CEO, added:
“Highview Power’s liquid air energy storage technology is ready for commercial deployment and we believe that it can make a substantial contribution to the UK’s net zero ambitions for the UK grid. As we move into the delivery phase for our matured technology, we recognise that the UK leads the world in innovation in the UK grid and has already made extraordinary strides in admitting renewables to its system.
“We are very grateful for the UK Government’s strong interest in LDES and their willingness to engage with UK industry, to accelerate and embed key LDES capabilities in the UK economy, and to create UK leaders in a fast-emerging global LDES marketplace.”
Larry Zulch, CEO of Invinity Energy Systems, said:
“Wind and solar power will clearly play an increasing role in the UK’s long-term energy security, reducing reliance on imported gas and supporting climate goals. Renewable energy requires energy storage to fill in the missing hours and make zero-carbon electricity available when it is needed, not just when the wind is blowing, or the sun is shining. The more dependent the UK is on renewables, the more urgent it is that long-duration energy storage, such as that provided by Invinity’s vanadium flow batteries, be made available.
“We couldn’t be more pleased to see the UK take a leadership role in the deployment of long duration energy storage projects and welcome further Government policy and investment support to facilitate the rapid adoption of critical energy storage technology.”
Drax: Aidan Kerr [email protected] T: 07849090368
SSE Renewables: Richard Holligan [email protected] T: 07341 725026
Highview Power: Wendy Prabhu [email protected] t: +44.203.617.1930
Invinity: Joe Worthington [email protected] T: 0204 5510361
The four companies are progressing development plans on their separate projects:
- Drax is currently progressing plans to build a new underground pumped hydro storage power station at its existing Cruachan site in Argyll, Scotland.
- SSE Renewables is currently progressing plans to build the 1,500 MW Coire Glas pumped storage hydro project on the shores of Loch Lochy in the Scottish Highlands. It would more than double Great Britain’s existing electricity storage capacity.
- Highview Power is developing a liquid air energy storage plant at Trafford Energy Park, just outside Manchester.
- Invinity Energy Systems energised a 5MWh Vanadium Flow Battery at the Energy Superhub Oxford in December 2021 and was recently awarded BEIS funding for the first phase of a project aiming to deliver the UK’s largest co-located solar + energy storage project.
- Long-duration electricity storage can be defined as technologies that are able to respond to supply and demand variations caused by daily peaks, weather events and seasonal patterns, providing power for more than four hours at their full capacity.
- The UK government’s 2021 Smart Systems and Flexibility Plan recognised long-duration electricity storage as “…essential for achieving net zero”.
- The government held a call for evidence to hear the industry’s views on de-risking investment which closed in September 2021 and aims to evaluate options and respond early this year.
- A recent report from Aurora Energy Research showed that up to 24 GW of long-duration electricity storage – equivalent to eight times the current installed capacity – could be needed to integrate wind power into a secure net zero electricity system.
- The last long duration electricity storage project to be built in the UK was Dinorwig pumped hydro storage power station in 1984, the last of four PSH power stations built before privatisation of the electricity markets.
- Since then, despite their vital role in enabling more renewable power to come online, no others have been built due to the barriers that exist to securing private investment in projects.
- A number of options exist for reforming the market to incentivise long-duration electricity storage, with a report published in January by KPMG recommending a cap and floor mechanism to be introduced.
Drax Group’s purpose is to enable a zero carbon, lower cost energy future and in 2019 announced a world-leading ambition to be carbon negative by 2030, using Bioenergy with Carbon Capture and Storage (BECCS) technology.
Drax’s around 3,000 employees operate across three principal areas of activity – electricity generation, electricity sales to business customers and compressed wood pellet production and supply to third parties. For more information visit www.drax.com