Recent developments in UK energy storage RD&D

ERP’s report on the ‘Future Role for Energy Storage in the UK‘ described UK RD&D in Chapter 4. Since publication in June 2011, a number of relevant public or public-private initiatives have been launched: (most recent developments first, organisation name links to further details below)

Organisation & link Description Latest news
Government & LCICG £30m for energy storage facilities
DECC Energy storage competitions – open

Heat TINA and Heat storage analysis published
Electricity Networks and Storage TINA published
DECC Advanced heat storage competition announced
Jan. 2013
Oct 2012

Sept 2012
Aug. 2012
May 2012
Ofgem Low Carbon Network Fund projects Nov. 2012
ERP & ESRN meeting Support for innovation in energy storage technologies Nov. 2012
Research Councils Energy Storage Network funded
UK-India Smart Grid and Energy Storage Call for Proposals
Grand Challenge grants awarded
Aug. 2012
Aug. 2012
April 2012
Royal Academy of Engineering UK-China ‘Energy Storage Technologies and Policy’ Report Aug. 2012
Carbon Trust/Imperial College Assessment of the role and value of energy storage July 2012
Centre for Low Carbon Futures UK-China collaboration
Report ‘Pathways for Energy Storage in the UK’ published
July 2012
Mar 2012
ETI £14m investment in 1.5MW/6MWh energy storage device June 2012
European Energy Research Alliance Joint Programme on Energy Storage Nov. 2011
UKERC Workshop report, thermal storage project, research landscape July 2011

Carbon Trust

The Carbon Trust commissioned a study entitled ‘Strategic Assessment of the Role and Value of Energy Storage Systems in the UK Low Carbon Energy Future’ from the Energy Futures Lab at Imperial College London. The report was published in July 2012, and is available at

The key high-level findings were:

  • The values presented in this report tend to be higher than previous studies suggest
  • The value of storage increases markedly towards 2030 and further towards 2050
  • The value of storage is the highest in pathways with a large share of RES, where storage can deliver significant operational savings through reducing renewable generation curtailment
  • A few hours of storage are sufficient to reduce peak demand and thereby capture significant value
  • Distributed energy storage can significantly contribute to reducing distribution network reinforcement expenditure
  • Storage has a consistently high value across a wide range of scenarios that include interconnection and flexible generation
  • Bulk storage should predominantly be located in Scotland to integrate wind and reduce transmission costs, while distributed storage is best placed in England and Wales to reduce peak loads and support distribution network management
  • Higher storage efficiencies only add moderate value of storage
  • Operation patterns and duty cycles imposed on the energy storage technology are found to vary considerably, and it is likely that a portfolio of different energy storage technologies will be required
  • There remain a number of important unknowns with respect to the technologies involved in grid-scale energy  storage

Centre for Low Carbon Futures (CLCF)

July 2012: The CLCF announced the establishment of a new collaboration with the University of Birmingham and the Chinese Academy of Sciences, developing Energy Storage Technologies. Principal academics include Professors Xiao-Ping Zhang and Richard A Williams from the University of Birmingham, Dr Yulong Ding from the Chinese Academy of Science and the University of Leeds, Professor Peter Taylor from the University of Leeds and Professor Peter Hall from the University of Sheffield.

March 2012: CLCF published a report ‘Pathways for Energy Storage in the UK’. The report shows that storage of electricity and heat could be the hidden gem for our future management of energy as we increase renewable power generation and manage peak demand. The authors call for a more joined up plan for energy storage which is consistent with developments in the wider energy system.

Further details from

Energy Research Partnership

November 2012: ERP in partnership with the Energy Storage Research Network brought together the major funders of energy storage innovation, from public and private sector, to exchange information and allow improved coordination of programmes. There was a discussion of how best to feed learning from the innovation community into policy making and regulation.

Specific actions arising were to:

  • Develop a more integrated energy storage technology community through the Energy Storage Research Network, Electricity Storage Network* and Energy Research Partnership fora; building on the KTN’s web-­‐based platform for the ESRN.
  • Explore options for input of research and analysis on energy storage technologies to policy and regulatory decision-makers via the DECC/Ofgem Smart Grid Forum.

A note of the meeting is available here.

Presentations are available from:

ERP has also looked more widely at flexibility options for the energy system, publishing a report in May 2012. See

*The Electricity Storage Network is a body with fifteen industrial members and a number of academic members with a mission: To demonstrate the social, technical and economic benefits of electrical energy storage; To inform and educate; and To present electrical energy storage as an integral part of the power network. See


June 2012: ETI made a £14m investment with Isentropic to develop and demonstrate a cost-effective 1.5MW/6MWh energy storage device that will operate on a UK primary substation owned by Western Power Distribution (WPD) in the Midlands. See

A number of other studies/requests for proposals have been made by ETI:

  • August 2010: Request for Proposals – A Techno- Economic Evaluation of Transportable Energy Storage. “The study will provide information to the ETI as to the relative merits of transportable energy storage and the potential to move forward to a demonstration project.” See
  • November 2010, ‘Feasibility Study of Geological Heat Storage in the UK’ announced. “The ETI project will be led by consultants Buro Happold with input from Cambridge University, the British Geological Survey and IF Technology Group. It will investigate the cost effectiveness and practicalities of storing large quantities of heat for long periods to meet a significant proportion of the UK’s winter demand, evaluate the practical limits for this type of storage and where in the country it could be most effectively used.” The project was completed in Autumn 2011.


European Energy Research Alliance (EERA)

November 2011: A Joint Programme on Energy Storage was launched, covering:

  • Electrochemical Storage (Lithium Batteries, Super Capacitors); coordinator: M. Conte (ENEA, Italy)
  • Chemical Storage (Hydrogen, Methanol, Ammonia); coordinator: C. Bourasseau (CEA, France)
  • Thermal Storage (Advanced Fluid, Phase Change Materials, Thermochemical Heat Storage); coordinator: R. Tamme (DLR, Germany)
  • Mechanical Storage (Hydro, Fly Wheels, Compressed Air); coordinator: A. Harby (Sintef, Norway)
  • Superconducting Magnetic Energy Storage; coordinator: M. Noe (KIT, Germany)
  • Techno-Economics; coordinator: P. Hall (Univ. of Strathclyde)
Further information at UK researchers can register to find out more about EERA at Project Development.

Government & LCICG

Government statement on energy storage technologies

January 2013: Science minister David Willetts announced Government investment of £30 million “to create dedicated R&D facilities to develop and test new grid scale storage technologies, helping the UK capitalise on its considerable excess energy production, saving money and reducing the national carbon footprint.”

There are no further details as to how that funding will be allocated. Press release at  

November 2012: On 9 November 2012, the Chancellor, George Osborne, gave a speech at the Royal Society in London and identified energy storage as one of “eight future technologies where we believe we can be the best – where we already have an edge, but we could be world-leading.”

Extract ftrom the speech:

“urgent action is needed to accelerate translation of research into new technologies and products so that global market opportunities are realised by UK companies – and ensure the UK is established as an international focus for energy storage research and innovation.

Research projects are delivering but the UK currently lacks the test-bed demonstrator capacity and dedicated R&D facilities to take the next step in developing and testing new grid-scale energy storage technologies.

We need to create them.”

Full text at

DECC Energy storage competitions

October 2012: On 19 October 2012, DECC opened two new energy storage competitions for applications, one for large-scale energy storage demonstration projects and the other for research and feasibility studies into storage systems and their components. Up to £20m will be offered for:

  • A Small Business Research Initiative (SBRI) Competition to develop and demonstrate innovative, pre-commercial energy storage technologies which can address grid-scale storage and balancing needs in the UK electricity network. Upo to £17m is available, with deadline for bids to be received: 12pm on 13 December 2012
  • A grant funding programme for research, development and feasibility studies of grid-scale energy storage systems and their components. Grant awards for component research and development projects or feasibility studies are expected to be in the range £200k to £1m. There will be two tranches of funding, with deadlines 6 December 2012, and 27 March 2013.
A pre-submission briefing and networking event for both competitions will be held in London on 6 November 2012.

LCICG Technology Innovation Needs Assessments (TINAs)

The Low Carbon Innovation Coordination Group (LCICG) has published the summary reports of two relevant Technology Innovation Needs Assessments (TINAs, available from

  • Heat TINA (which includes thermal storage) was released on 19 September 2012.
  • Electricity Networks and Storage TINA was released on 15 August 2012.

DECC Advanced heat storage competition

May 2012: DECC announced the launch of their advanced heat storage competition to assess the viability of compact heat storage materials as an effective means to mitigate potential strain on the electricity grid in scenarios of increasing loads from low carbon heat technologies (such as heat pumps).

Phase 1 opened on 30 May, for feasibility studies of product performance and contracts are expected to be awarded at the end of September 2012. Successful studies will be invited to participate in a prototype demonstration (Phase 2) in Spring 2013 with monitoring to take place over a 12 month period.

Full details at


Ofgem’s Low Carbon Networks Fund allows up to £500m support to projects sponsored by the distribution network operators (DNOs) to try out new technology, operating and commercial arrangements. There are two tiers of funding which are available under the LCN Fund. The First Tier is designed to enable DNOs to recover a proportion of expenditure incurred on small scale projects. Under the Second Tier of the LCN Fund, Ofgem facilitates an annual competition for an allocation of up to £64million to help fund a small number of flagship projects. See

Tier 2 projects

November 2012: Five ‘Tier 2’ projects succeeded in the 2012 competition, with total funding of £45.5m, one of which had a significant energy storage component:

Details of all 2012 projects at

December 2011: Six second-tier projects were successful in the second round of Low Carbon Networks Fund. Two of these projects had an explicit energy storage component:

  • BRISTOL (submitted by Western Power Distribution): will trial the use of in-home battery storage with PV
  • New Thames Valley Vision (submitted by Southern Electric Power Distribution): will assess the effectiveness of various interventions to actively manage the network including street level energy storage, and trial thermal storage for I&C customers.

Details of all 2011 winning projects at

Tier 1 projects

Other projects with energy storage components are supported by Ofgem as first-tier projects:

  • SSE has three relevant projects (see
    • The NINES project being developed by SSE includes installation of a 1MW/6MWh NAS battery (part-funded by DECC) and distributed ‘smart’ thermal storage.
    • SEPD is proposing to install 3 single-phase 25kW/25kWh Li-ion batteries on the LV network in Slough to inform and de-risk deployment of energy storage technologies under the second-tier project, above. The trial will run January 2012 – March 2013.
    • The Orkney Energy Storage Park project from  is aimed principally at demonstrating that it is possible for a DNO to create the commercial incentives and infrastructure to encourage third party energy storage providers to locate their storage in areas where it can be used to alleviate network constraints.
  • UK Power Networks has installed a 200kW/200kWh Li-ion battery on 11kV network with distributed generation attached, to validate the performance of the storage device. See Early findings have been published in September 2011 at

Research Councils

Energy Storage Research Network

October 2012: EPSRC is funding an Energy Storage Research Network, led by Nigel Brandon at Imperial College, from October 2012.

The network will organise a series of meetings and workshops over a three year period to help develop a more integrated energy storage research community in the UK, and to raise the profile of UK energy storage research both nationally and internationally. The network will consider all the potential storage approaches, with applications focussing in particular on those important to the provision of future low carbon energy systems, so electric and hybrid vehicles and grid scale applications.

Details at

UK – India Call

August 2012: On 22 August 2012, India’s Department of Science and Technology (DST), New Delhi, in collaboration with the Research Councils UK Energy Programme, jointly invited proposals for consortia research projects focussing on Smart Energy Grids and Energy Storage. The closing date for proposals is 15 November 2012. EPSRC and DST expect to commit up to £5M each on research programmes of up to three years in length.


Grand Challenge

April 2012: the Research Councils Energy Programme announced funding for two Grand Challenge projects in energy storage:

Other grants

All EPSRC grants with an energy storage component can be viewed on the web at As of May 2012, 24 grants were being funded, with total value £28.6m.

Royal Academy of Engineering

The Academy hosted a workshop with the Chinese Acdemy of Sciences (CAS) on the future of energy storage technologies and policy in London in January 2011 (see, with a return workshop in Beijing held in May 2011 (see

A report of the workshops was published in August 2012, available from

The key recommendations were: (1) Develop more robust systems analysis and modeling; ccelerate the deployment of energy storage technology; (2) Identify funding pathways for EST systems and related infrastructure; (3) Actively encourage collaborative research; (4) Recognise and promote innovation in EST through prizes, awards and scholarships; (5) Establish a senior UK-China steering group to develop further collaborative activity.


In May 2011, a UKERC workshop ‘The future of energy storage: stakeholder perspectives and policy implications’ (referred to on page 8 of the ERP report) was held and a report published, available from The Executive Summary findings include:

“The lack of a clear numerical understanding of the value proposition of storage could lead to a missed opportunity for the UK, both in terms of the transition towards an efficient low carbon energy system, and a possible export market for storage technologies worldwide.

Three main points in need of attention have been identified by the workshop:

  • Modelling work to clarify the value proposition of storage
  • Deployment support to aid learning around technology development and system integration
  • A regulatory system to enable market uptake”

In June 2011, the UKERC Research Fund made an award to Professor Philip Eames, Loughborough University, to undertake a project ‘The Future Role of Thermal Energy Storage in the UK Energy System: Assessment of Technical Feasibility and Factors Influencing Adoption’. See

In July 2011, UKERC’s Research Atlas was updated to include a new ‘Energy storage’ landscape by Alan Ruddell, covering electrical energy storage, available from The report states:

“The UK is well established as a centre for battery development, with the main focus on lithium batteries, an important technology for mobile and stationary applications alike. The main challenge is to improve storage performance particularly in terms of energy density, and lifetime during charge and discharge cycling, through research into new electrode materials and manufacturing methods.”