UK To See Rapid Expansion In Battery Storage Through To 2030

The UK’s battery storage market is set for exponential growth in the coming years, rising from the ground up to reach 24 gigawatts (GW) capacity by the end of the decade. These utility-scale battery systems will attract investments of up to $20 billion and have enough combined energy reserves to power 18 million homes for a year, Thanks to this rapid expansion, the UK will account for almost 9% of all global capacity installations, sitting fourth in the table behind China, the US and Germany.

Need For Reliable Storage

As the UK installs more solar and wind energy infrastructure, the need for reliable storage solutions increases due to the intermittent nature of these renewable sources. Consequently, the government has set ambitious energy storage requirement targets, eyeing 30 GW of capacity by 2030, including batteries, flywheel, pumped hydro and liquid air energy storage.

The UK will likely meet and even surpass its target, but only if the government addresses some expected roadblocks. Namely, ensuring widespread grid connections for battery systems, mitigating supply chain issues and developing a policy framework for pumped hydro projects.

Hydroelectric Storage

Of the 4.7 GW of installed energy storage capacity in the UK, battery energy storage systems (BESS) account for only about 2.1 GW. Most of the current capacity, 2.8 GW, comes from pumped hydro storage – a form of turbine-powered hydroelectric storage where water moves between two reservoirs at different heights. Although these systems are efficient, the financial and regulatory hurdles required to develop new capacity mean the UK is unlikely to add new projects in the short term. However, the government plans to establish a strategy for long-duration energy storage (LDES) developments, such as pumped hydro, by the end of 2024, boosting capacity buildout in the long term.

Battery developments are not only set to grow in number but also in scale thanks to the government’s decision to lift size restrictions on project planning. As a result, the most common size of BESS projects in the UK is set to leap, with some single projects even topping 1 GW. A battery project of this scale could require as much as 55 acres of land, equivalent to more than 40 football fields.

BESS can play an essential role in the power grid, including frequency regulation, voltage support and power reserve, while enhancing grid stability and reliability. To encourage developments, the National Grid opened five revenue streams on which BESS project investors can capitalize. Choosing the right revenue stream can deliver significant revenues to battery operators. For instance, the dynamic containment services for grid stability and the capacity market auction schemes are driving the battery energy storage deployment. However, meeting the technical requirements to enter such schemes can be challenging.

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