Network March 2020

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ENERGY STORAGE Q : What about plans in the UK? A : "There were plans in Northern Ireland for a demonstrator project, but it hasn't been taken forward. At the moment, there isn't an inordinate need for large scale flexible storage, as gas-powered electricity is still relatively cheap. But towards 2030, we won't have that, so we need a programme for large scale tech - nology to meet that need. We need to make a commercial case for the newer technologies." Q : What's the thermal storage principle? A : "Most of the energy we use today is for heat, not just electricity. So, if we use energy as heat, it might be better to store it as heat. There are a number of phase-change materials that can convert electricity into heat, energy dense materials that we could use to line our buildings, rather than storing energy as electric - ity then converting it to heat. As we move to net zero, we can't use natural gas for heating. We could certainly use electrical heat pumps, but to spread the load we could use these phase- change materials, or we could store excess heat in industrial applications. At Birmingham we've also been looking at materials that can store cold for refrigeration and demonstrating phase-change materials that keep trains comfortably cool for passengers or transporting goods. Comfort cooling can be a big drain on electricity on trains or in EVs; colleagues have been testing this on the railway network in China. There are also trials of using 'liquid air'" for cooling refrigerated trucks in the UK. There is a slew of applications where cooling is going to be important as well as heating." Q : How much large scale storage capacity do you estimate that we need? A : "A number of sources have looked at possible figures, for instance National Grid's Future Energy Scenarios. At the moment, we have 3GW of storage in pumped hydro, but National Grid estimates that by 2030, if we are going to meet the decarbonisation target, we might need four or five times that - and we can't build 15GW of pumped hydro. The point is that the government has committed to net-zero with the expectation of a lot more renewables coming onto the energy system in the 2020s. With COP 26 coming up, now is the time to be pushing forward with the trials to make it more effective. We have a lot of home grown firms with IP, but if the market emerges in the US or China, that's where they'll go. That's what happened with lithium ion batteries, a lot of the original science was done in Oxford." Storing for the future Network speaks to Dr Jonathan Radcliffe, reader in energy systems and innovation, about the importance of the MANIFEST project to unlocking the potential of energy storage in a flexible energy system T he MANIFEST project, or Multi-Scale Analysis for Facilities for Energy Storage is a £5 million programme investigating energy storage technologies, including those that offer an alternative to batteries or pumped hydro, especially for large scale and long terms requirements. The programme aims to accelerate deployment for these alterna - tive energy storage options on the UK power grid. Q : What's the core purpose of the project? A : "The Manifest Project is about looking broadly at energy storage technolo- gies in the UK and how these can be delivered to enable the rapid deployment of renewable generation on the electricity networks – we will need more than just batteries to integrate renewables. Other forms of storage will be needed to help keep frequency steady on the grid, and to shiŸ between high wind and low wind periods. We're looking at compressed air storage, thermal storage and 'liquid air' storage which could have the capacity to store large amounts of energy for relatively long periods, and at a relatively low cost. We're thinking broadly about future energy needs over the next 10 years and how alternative technologies can be developed to meet that need." Q : Why can't batteries provide the flexibility we need? A : "Batteries do provide flexibility, but as we will be deploying many gigawatts of wind energy in the North Sea, that will need large scale storage – batteries would be a very expensive way of doing that and there are potentially NETWORK / 34 / MARCH 2020 more cost effective alternatives. 'Liquid air' storage is in the news, thanks to the plans of [storage technology company] Highview. AŸer Highview scaled up to a 5MW storage facility in Manchester, we took their old pilot plant, which was origi - nally in Slough, and relocated it to Birmingham University as an experimental facility. Now they have plans for a 50MW plant, scaling up to commercial scale. At that sort of level, it begins to make a big difference. A 50MW facility can store enough energy to power the surrounding area for four to six hours." Q : What about compressed air storage? A : "A lot of people are work- ing on compressed air, including teams at Nottingham and Warwick universities, and there are also demonstration plants in the US and Germany. You need a large underground cavern to compress the air into, but the technology is develop- ing. What it probably needs, however, is more government support."

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