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UK lagging on battery technology

Photovoltaics

The UK is not ready for battery technology to be incorporated into the energy system according to energy experts.

Speaking at a discussion around keeping the lights on after the closure of coal fired power stations, former chief executive of RWE Npower Paul Massara and University College London professor of energy and climate change policy Michael Grubb agreed that the energy system in the UK as it stands was not set up to handle energy storage.

Massara said that more money needed to be spent on battery technology and energy storage systems, and that more should be done to enable a change in regulation.

“The reality is that the battery is not technically viewed as something [vital],” said Massara. “It’s not in the system, we haven’t got it in our heads yet, so we don’t call it a storage item, we don’t call it an energy saving item.

“We have all of these antiquated systems which were designed around big stuff producing [energy] and it hasn’t really developed.”

Massara went on to say that he thought that carbon capture and storage (CCS) would never work on a large scale. He said that plants being built around the world, which were further ahead of the UK, were only operating for four to six hours a day and that getting a return on investment from the technology over such limited time periods would be difficult.

He said that instead focus should be shifted to photovoltaics (PV) and battery technology, which would disrupt the market and were economically more viable.

“It’s about the scale of economy on batteries and PV,” said Massara. ”It’s not just batteries for the home, it’s batteries for cars and although they’re not the same, but they’re similar so that economic pool for investment is huge.”

Grubb added that potentially the biggest storer of energy in 10 years’ time would be the electric car.

Currently, batteries that can be installed in homes are around 3.2kW, and according to Massara are the size of a boiler on a wall. 

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