Low carbon energy Imperial College

Energy Storage for Low Carbon Grids

Principal Investigator: Professor Goran Strbac (Electrical and Electronic Engineering)

Business School Lead Investigator: Professor Richard Green

Researchers: Dr Iain Staffell, Dr Olayinka Williams

Funder: EPSRC

Duration: October 2012 – September 2017

The electricity sector could be almost entirely decarbonised by 2030 but there would be significant consequences for the UK electricity systems.  The costs of system integration are a significant concern if radical change affects both the supply and demand within the UK low-carbon system, and could result in a considerable reduction in conventional electricity generation, transmission and distribution assets.

Deploying energy storage on a large-scale could be the answer. Led by the Faculty of Engineering, this project developed new techniques to better evaluate the economic and environmental benefits of a range of energy storage technologies. We focused on four different storage technologies with particular relevance to grid-scale storage applications – Na-ion, redox flow batteries (RFB), supercapacitors, and thermal energy storage (TES) – each of which had the potential to be transformative.

In order to properly account for constraints imposed by the network on the storage technologies, and vice versa, we deliberately engaged electrical network experts and experts in control, converters and storage, to jointly consider optimum solutions for a range of future energy scenarios, allowing us to develop tools, methods and technologies that could have wide application.

Key outputs from this project were:

  • A roadmap for the development of grid scale storage for UK implementation
  • An analysis of policy options to support UK deployment of storage
  • A blueprint for the control of storage in UK distribution networks;
  • Patents and high impact papers relating to breakthrough innovations in energy storage technologies
  • New tools and techniques to analyse the integration of storage into low carbon electrical networks.

Key Research Questions:

  • What limitations exist in current grid regulation, market operation, grid investment and control practices that prevent the role of energy storage being understood, and its economic and environmental value quantified?
  • What are the existing barriers to the development and deployment of cost effective energy storage solutions for grid application?
  • Using our results what strategic insights and direction can be derived for a wide range of stakeholders on the development and integration of energy storage technologies in future low carbon electricity grids.
Research Partners
ABB Alstom Group Axeon Ltd
Carbon Trust Department of Energy and Climate Change Dong Energy
E.On EDF Energy Electricity North West
Electricity Storage Network Ltd Energy Technologies Institute Highview Power Storage
International Power plc Isentropic Ltd M-Solv Ltd
National Grid Nexeon Ltd Northern Powergrid
UK Power Networks Williams Advanced Engineering WorleyParsons UK