The UK must find new ways to encourage investment in energy storage, advises a recent report from the Institution of Mechanical Engineers (IMechE).
The report, titled Energy Storage: The missing link in the UK’s energy commitments, presents an overview of current energy storage technologies in light of how each can help the nation to meet its 2020 renewable energy targets, which are ‘unlikely’ to be achieved without significant investment in storage, according to IMechE.
The assessment covers most battery types including flow, lithium-ion, nickel, metal-air, sodium sulphur, sodium nickel halide, lead-acid, supercapacitors, graphene supercapacitors and SMES, as well as compressed air energy storage, pumped storage, cryogenic energy storage, hydrogen and flywheels. There is no ‘silver bullet’ technology so a wide range of applications and capacities should be encouraged, the report said.
Among its key findings, IMechE said energy storage cannot be incentivised by conventional market mechanisms; instead new public finance and business models are needed to fund this ‘key element’ of the nation’s future energy system. Government must lead the way for industry by developing a roadmap for the development, demonstration and deployment of energy storage in the UK, said the report.
IMechE recommends that energy storage be used in the transport and heat sectors as well as for power, given that electricity accounts for only 26% of the UK’s energy demand. The report also called for the UK to ‘reject its obsession with cheapness’ in the energy sector and spend more on ‘driving sustainable change’.