A new report from Aurora Energy Research shows that up to 24GW of long duration electricity storage (LDES) could be needed to integrate wind power into a secure net zero electricity system. This is equivalent to eight times the current installed capacity.

The UK’s net zero strategy to decarbonise the power system fully by 2035 is subject to security of supply being maintained.With gas-fired generation currently the main flexible resources available to balance intermittent solar and wind, Aurora’s report finds this target is unachievable without urgent investment in viable low-carbon alternatives.  

LDES can provide flexible but reliable capacity enabling increased utilisation of renewables, enhanced system stability and resilience, according to the Long duration electricity storage in GB report. 

LDES include pumped storage and a range of innovative new technologies that can store electricity for four hours or more in order to supply firm, flexible and fast responding energy that is valuable for managing a high renewables system 

Aurora’s report demonstrates the benefits LDES could provide to the GB energy system by contributing towards security of supply and reducing emissions, costs and reliance on gas.

The need for LDES has been recognised by policymakers but at present, high upfront costs, long lead times, a lack of revenue certainty and missing market signals, lead to underinvestment, the report concludes.

Policy support and market reforms can provide revenue certainty and address missing markets to recognise the full value of LDES to enable the deployment of LDES projects. 

Aurora Energy Research head of commissioned projects for Western Europe Felix Chow-Kambitsch said: “The UK’s Net Zero strategy has accelerated the deployment of wind and solar, and this has resulted in a large requirement for Long Duration Electricity Storage to balance the intermittent renewables. 

Aurora’s report demonstrates the importance of LDES in facilitating the UK’s decarbonisation targets.

“LDES provides a valuable contribution to system security and operability in a high renewables energy system.

“In addition to providing low carbon firm capacity, LDES technologies also provide a wide range of balancing and ancillary services to help manage the electricity network.”

SSE Renewables managing director Stephen Wheeler added: “Cost-effectively and securely decarbonising the UK’s electricity system by 2035 will require a range of flexible home-grown long duration storage technologies.  

This timely study by Aurora finds that to achieve the government’s ambition, an eight-fold increase in long duration storage capacity is needed.

“This amount of storage capacity will not only play a major role in reducing emissions, but also significantly reduce the UK’s reliance on imported gas and in return, keep household energy bills lower and less volatile. 

The introduction of a new policy mechanism such as the Cap and Floor could unlock the investment required in projects such as our 1500MW Coire Glas pumped storage project which has the standalone capability to more than double the UK’s total electricity storage capacity and significantly scale up system flexibility.”

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