Chancellor George Osborne turned a few heads last week when he said Britain must become an international leader in the development of low carbon technologies such as energy storage.
Not one in favour of splashing out on renewable technologies like wind in the past, he surprised the industry when he outlined a range of efficient and low carbon technologies at the Royal Society.
Addressing scientists in areas of science, engineering and medicine, Mr Osborne listed eight future technologies, where he said the UK is already leading but could become the “world-leader” as we have “an edge”. He said energy storage is a key technology that could help boost the market for electric vehicles and improve the nation’s energy security.
The Chancellor said: “We need better ways to store electricity… There is the challenge of storing more electricity for the Grid. Electricity demand peaks at around 60GW, whilst we have a grid capacity of around 80GW – but storage capacity of around just 3GW. Greater capability to store electricity is crucial for these power sources to be viable. It promises savings on UK energy spend of up to £10 billion a year by 2050 as extra capacity for peak load is less necessary.”
He added the UK currently lacks the testing and developing capacity for new grid-scale storage technologies. He said the Research Councils’ energy programme is investing more than £500 million in energy research, including energy storage.
He also announced an investment of £800 million to maximise the funding of low carbon energy technology innovation and £20 million for research into the application of synthetic biology in areas such as the production of low-carbon fuel.
The Electricity Storage Network welcomed the news but said certainty is needed in the electricity market reform for people to invest in energy storage projects.
Anthony Price, Director of the association said: “This is excellent news. Now that energy storage is recognised at the top level as a critical technology for the UK, we look forward to seeing a market framework that positively encourages support for the deployment of electricity storage.
“Support for new technology development in grid scale electricity storage is essential. Ideas have to come through the lab, into industry and then into full commercial production. We need to support innovation, encourage development and deliver electricity storage solutions. If we are to use the UK as a showcase for export potential, the reform of the electricity market must provide certainty of investment for energy storage projects.”