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13 Nov 2012 04:11:42

Update on UK Government energy storage policy

ITM Power, the energy storage and clean fuel company, welcomes the speech by Chancellor George Osbourne at the Royal Society on Friday 9th November, and reported in The Guardian, in which he called for the UK to be a world leader in energy storage, as a key technology that could help enhance the UK's energy security.

Today sees the opening of the 7th International Renewable Energy Storage Conference and Exhibition (IRES 2012) in Berlin, Germany. Dr. Simon Bourne, CTO of ITM Power, will be presenting 'rapid response electrolysis and its role in energy storage' at the conference, outlining the company's technology and market applications in this field.

In his speech at the Royal Society, the Chancellor pointed out: "There is the challenge of storing more electricity for the grid ... Electricity demand peaks at around 60GW, whilst we have a grid capacity of around 80GW – but storage capacity of around just 3GW. Greater capability to store electricity is crucial for these power sources to be viable. It promises savings on UK energy spend of up to £10bn a year by 2050 as extra capacity for peak load is less necessary."

On 19 October 2012, the UK Department for Energy and Climate Change (DECC) launched a £20m energy storage funding competition.

The DECC press release commented: "Energy storage systems enable electricity generated at a time of low demand to be stored and used at a later time when electricity demand is high. These systems have an important role to play in supporting the growth of low carbon technologies but this sector is in need of an injection of cash to spur on innovation and encourage private sector investment, as highlighted by a recent report published by the Low Carbon Innovation Coordination Group. In light of the growing importance of energy storage in the low carbon economy, the Department of Energy and Climate Change has today launched two energy storage competitions, the first for large-scale energy storage demonstration projects and the second for research and feasibility studies into storage systems and their components."

Energy and Climate Change Minister Greg Barker said: "As we move towards a low carbon future, the ability to store energy when we don't need it, for times when we do will become even more important, helping us balance our electricity network and use more clean green power. This investment will help boost innovation in this area and bring more technologies into this growing market."

Power to gas energy storage
Wind curtailment is now significant across Europe, particularly in Germany and Denmark and has resulted in wind power being turned off all night during the winter. Energy storage is now top of the agenda for energy policy makers throughout the world and hydrogen is increasingly recognized as the lowest cost solution for long term energy storage.

Power to gas at the MW scale offers the option of generating hydrogen by electrolysis using excess renewable power and feeding the hydrogen directly into the gas grid. ITM Power has received a grant from the Technology Strategy Board to access the use of this approach in the UK, partnering with GasTec, SHFCA, National Grid and Shell.

ITM Power technology and partnerships
In April, ITM Power launched its new high pressure and high volume stack designs that form the basis of its Megawatt Scale energy storage plant at the Hannover Messe. ITM Power subsequently announced that it had signed a Letter of Intent with one of Germany's top 10 local utility companies to investigate power-to-gas energy storage. The collaboration will investigate the potential of energy storage by the production of hydrogen from ITM Power’s rapid response electrolysis equipment and build a plant to test the performance and operation.

ITM Power has also signed an agreement with ABO Wind of Wiesbaden, Germany to identify and develop wind to hydrogen projects in the UK, Ireland and Germany.

In Germany and across Europe, Power to Gas projects are developing rapidly and energy storage is increasingly viewed as a key missing link in the effort to decarbonise energy. The UK Government, through DECC and the Technology Strategy Board, have now taken on the energy storage challenge and are actively supporting UK businesses to become world leaders in this important new market.

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