UK offers £20m R&D funding for energy storage

Offshore wind to benefit from emerging technologies

Funding for £20m (€24.6m) is available from the UK government to support the commercialisation of promising energy storage technologies.

Energy storage solutions are widely expected to boost further growth in variable renewable energy generation, especially large-scale offshore wind projects. But storage technologies have yet to be commercialised, making the offshore wind sector vulnerable to claims that it is dependent on fossil-fuel or nuclear power stations to provide ‘baseload’ electricity generation.

The UK Department of Energy and Climate Change has announced two energy storage funding competitions worth a total £20m. The first fund — of £17m — will provide money for the design of up to ten technology demonstration projects, with up to three of these expected to be chosen for full-scale testing.

A further £3m will be available for projects aimed at testing components and materials used in energy storage technologies and to conduct feasibility studies about the workability of energy storage systems.

As energy storage solutions emerge, multiple technologies need to be deployed, said James Sun, new ventures manager at the UK Carbon Trust. The Carbon Trust is a member of the UK Low Carbon Innovation Co-ordination Group, which has advised Decc on energy storage competitions.

Speaking with Windpower Offshore, Sun said that just as gaps between the supply and demand of electricity can vary in length — lasting from a few seconds to days, and including seasonal variation — so the technologies that will assist in managing these gaps will need to be different.