Energy storage in the UK has primarily been provided in the past by medium-term storage technologies (comprising both conventional hydro and pumped storage) that have been used for energy arbitrage, initially for balancing the fixed base load generation of nuclear stations. Following the expansion of gas turbine generation in the 90s, which could fulfill this role more easily, this resulted in pumped storage being used increasingly for maintaining grid stability by providing ancillary services under the National Grid ESO balancing mechanism. More recently, solid-state batteries have entered the market as another technology capable of providing short-term balancing services.
However, the recent expansion of renewable generation, particularly wind and solar, has resulted in greater intermittent generation and hence the need to provide increased operating reserve in both the short-term and longer term. While pumped storage plants can currently provide medium-term and short-term ‘shallow’ storage, over several days, there is currently insufficient reservoir storage capacity at these plants to provide the necessary long-term ‘deep’ storage, over several days or even weeks, needed for balancing of renewables.
There is thus a perceived need for increased energy storage both to meet the short-term (shallow) storage requirements of the NG balancing mechanism as well as longer term (deep) storage for improved balancing of intermittent renewables. This could be provided by a combination of both long-term and medium-term energy storage technologies including pumped storage, on the supply side, with short-term storage technologies such as batteries, located on the demand side.
This presentation investigates the options open to the UK power sector and how the development of further pumped storage could save up to £10 billion in long term generation costs in order to meet the UK’s net-zero emissions targets.
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