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Details of Grant 

EPSRC Reference: EP/L014386/1
Title: Business, Economics, Planning and Policy for Energy Storage in Low-Carbon Futures
Principal Investigator: Green, Professor RJ
Other Investigators:
Strbac, Professor G Pollitt, Professor MG
Researcher Co-Investigators:
Project Partners:
Alstom Group Carbon Trust Department of Energy and Climate Change
E.On EDF Energy Electricity Storage Network Ltd
Energy Technologies Institute (ETI) Highview Power Storage Isentropic Ltd
National Grid Ofgem
Department: Imperial College Business School
Organisation: Imperial College London
Scheme: Standard Research
Starts: 01 September 2014 Ends: 30 September 2017 Value (£): 1,017,501
EPSRC Research Topic Classifications:
Energy Storage
EPSRC Industrial Sector Classifications:
Energy
Related Grants:
Panel History:
Panel DatePanel NameOutcome
04 Nov 2013 UK China Grid scale storage Announced
Summary on Grant Application Form
Decarbonising the energy system in many countries (including both China and the UK) is likely to involve the large-scale deployment of renewable electricity generators with intermittent output and the electrification of energy services such as heat and transport that have very low load factors. These changes in electricity supply and demand will lead to a great need for energy storage. Our work for the Carbon Trust has estimated that the effective deployment of energy storage in the UK could reduce the cost of a low-carbon electricity system by £15 billion in 2030.

The deployment and operation of storage is a complex task, since it can provide many different services, including energy arbitrage (buying off-peak and selling at higher peak prices), energy reserves, resolving transmission and distribution constraints and improving system reliability. The weight placed on each of these could affect the pattern of investment, and sophisticated planning tools are required to ensure that optimal decisions can be taken. We will improve these tools so that we can accurately represent a variety of storage systems. Much of the existing work on storage assumes that it might be used simply to postpone the "like for like" replacement of network assets that would otherwise be overloaded, but we will consider more radical options, using storage to actively manage the distribution network as part of the broader smart grid.

We can use our models to calculate the economic value of energy storage when it provides a range of services to network companies and system users. We will measure the option value of having a storage system that can be deployed in much less time than it takes to get consent to build a transmission line, adding flexibility in how we respond to uncertainty over the future evolution of the energy system. It is important that such decisions are made on the basis of appropriate models, capable of quantifying the wide range of services that storage can provid, taking account of the way that electricity generation and demand varies over the course of the day and the year, and measuring the impact of transmission and distribution network effects.

It is important to recognise that many countries (including the UK) have liberalised their electricity industries, and storage will only be pursued if companies believe that a viable business case exists. Work has started (via the Low Carbon Networks Fund) to test particular business models for demonstration projects, but this needs to be generalised. We will provide a quantified assessment of whether there is a business case for energy storage at present, and of what needs to be done to create one. This will involve a detailed study of the contracts that would be written around electricity storage, drawing lessons from existing arrangements for other kinds of storage, such as for gas or agricultural commodities. We will study how the rules of the electricity market could affect the choices of storage and generation technology.

We will ask what policies are needed to ensure that storage can be economically viable when sensibly deployed and operated. We will identify technology policies that can help move energy storage from prototypes to large scale deployment. International transmission may complement energy storage within a country, and we will assess the potentially conflicting incentives if neighbouring countries adopt different strategies for dealing with intermittency.

Too many debates around energy policy today are based on assertions without sufficient evidence. The models that we will develop, and the analysis that we will perform, will provide numerical estimates of the effectiveness of a range of policies, allowing regulators and other policy-makers to choose options that will lead to decarbonisation in the most effective way.

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