UK awards £32m to advance energy storage technologies

Article by Amanda Jasi

THE UK Government has awarded more than £32m (US$38.9) in funding to five projects across the country developing energy storage technologies that could help to increase resilience of the electricity grid.

The Government says that energy storage will be crucial as the UK scales up clean energy. It will allow the nation to strengthen energy security by enabling further reliance on domestic renewable energy, in place of fossil fuels.

The recently-announced £32.9m funding follows the first phase of the £68m Longer Duration Energy Storage (LODES) competition, which saw 19 projects awarded a share of £2.7m. This second phase of funding will allow the five “most promising” projects to advance by building prototypes and demonstrators of technologies that store energy as heat, electricity, or as a low-carbon energy carrier such as hydrogen.

A partnership led by EDF will receive £7.73m to develop a hydrogen storage demonstrator using depleted uranium at UKAEA’s Culham Science Centre in Abingdon, Oxfordshire, UK. The demonstrator will convert electricity to hydrogen via electrolysis, and then be stored for future use. This can be either directly as hydrogen, or by converting it back to electricity using a fuel cell.

RheEnergise will receive £8.24m to build a demonstrator of its High-Density Hydro pumped energy storage system near Plymouth. The system uses environmentally safe mineral-rich fluid that is >2.5 times more dense than water, to create electricity from gentle slopes without the need for steep dams or high mountains as in traditional hydropower. The project will use surplus electricity to pump fluid uphill, and when electricity is later needed by the grid, the fluid is released downhill through turbines to generate it.

Others awarded funding include StorTera for its single liquid flow battery (SLIQ) technology (£5.02m) and thermal energy storage projects led by the University of Sheffield (£2.6m) and Sunamp (£9.25m).

The Government says the funding builds on the aims set out by the UK’s Energy Security Strategy earlier this year, to ensure a more flexible, efficient system by encouraging flexibility with large-scale, long-duration electricity storage to balance the system.

The LODES competition is funded through the UK Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategies £1bn Net Zero Innovation Portfolio, which aims to accelerate commercialisation of novel clean energy technologies and processes through the 2020s and 2030s.

Article by Amanda Jasi

Staff reporter, The Chemical Engineer

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