UK backs storage start-ups

UK energy storage technology start-ups REDT and Moxia Energy have been awarded a share of more than £5m ($8m) by the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) to push ahead their respective research and development plans.

REDT was given £3.6m to fine-tune a technology to store electricity generated by wind turbines, while Moixa won £1.7m for a compact battery-based, residential-scale concept designed to be installed to discharge power during peak demand times.

“This investment will give these organisations the boost they need to develop energy storage designs, helping cut costs and bringing new technologies to market in this sector,” says energy and climate change minister Baroness Verma.

“The ability to store energy in this way will become increasingly important in the move towards a low carbon economy.”

REDT head of operations Gary Simmonds adds: “The timing of DECC’s energy storage competition is ideal for the company’s next stage of development – to design, build, and demonstrate larger scale, lower cost energy storage systems.

Three other organisations shared £900,000 under the second round of DECC's energy storage systems competition.

Kiwa Gastec won a grant of £400,000 to study safety issues surrounding the use of hydrogen as an energy storage technology; Sharp Laboratories was awarded just under £400,000 to scale up a new battery technology for residential and community energy storage systems; and EA Technology Ltd took away £104,000 to develop a “good practice guide” on electrical energy storage for use in Britain’s electricity networks.

The UK’s Electricity Storage Network (ESN), which is campaigning for at least an extra 2GW of energy storage before 2020, has warned that delays to building large-scale electricity storage capacity in to the grid could result in £100m a year costs for tax payers and investors, and a loss of value rising to £10bn a year by 2050.

According to the ESN, the UK needs to install a minimum of 200MW of energy storage capacity every year between now and 2020, if it is to maximise investment in new generation capacity and power grid infrastructure by 2020. 

“The Energy Bill is seeking to attract £110bn of investment to bring about a once-in-a-generation transformation of our electricity market, yet the investment in a decarbonised power grid without adequate electricity storage will result in additional costs from network fees, curtailment and system balancing of the order of £100 million a year,” says ESN director Anthony Price, noting current storage capacity is “less than half of what is required to balance the onset of low carbon technologies onto the grid”. 

He adds that a change in government policy to reclassify electricity storage as an “independent market category” separate from generation, transmission, distribution and supply would kick-start investment.