Loughborough University
Leicestershire, UK
LE11 3TU
+44 (0)1509 222222
Loughborough University

Centre for Renewable Energy Systems Technology (CREST)

Energy Storage

The increased role for energy storage in a low carbon energy services supply system is now recognised both in the UK and internationally. The evolving electrical generation mix, more wind, solar and tidal that is likely to be at the core of a future energy supply system will include a greater proportion of less predictable and time varying renewables in conjunction with inflexible nuclear and fossil fuel with carbon capture and storage. Expected changes in demand will introduce additional uncertainties.  For example, electrification of transport will lead to increased loads and may lead to increased diurnal load variation, electrification of future space heat demand will lead to the variation between summer and winter electrical loads being substantially greater than at present. The exact need for capacity (power, duration together with quantity, and location) and the best form of energy storage to provide a robust cost effective energy services supply system is not yet known.

In 2013 just under half (45-47%) of total final energy consumption in the UK was used for heating purposes with approximately 80% derived from fossil fuels.  This includes space and water heating, industrial process heat, cooking, cooling and refrigeration. If the 80% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions is to be achieved it is essential that low carbon solutions for heat production and supply are developed.

Distributed/local thermal energy storage can be used to help balance differences between heat/coolth generation and demand requirements with respect to both disparities that occur in time and magnitude and thus help manage end use energy demand. The potential also exists to use thermal energy storage with conventional thermal electricity generation in particular to make nuclear generation more flexible. The following projects are ongoing at CREST to develop improved thermal energy storage solutions for a range of applications.