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Energy storage: the imperative to act

Words: David Parkin

A crucial consideration for the entire renewables sector, with particular relevance to wind, storage is a burning, and imminent issue. David Parkin, Head of Renewable Energy for Atkins, presents the issues from a British standpoint and discusses how they mesh into the wider European framework.

The UK is at the forefront of the transition to a low carbon economy and is the first country in the world to have self-imposed, legally binding, emissions reductions targets. There are a number of main areas of focus, namely: decarbonisation of power, heat and transport, and the Low Carbon Transition Plan, which was issued by the UK Department for Energy and Climate Change (DECC) in July 2009, and identifies power as the main focus over the next few years.

Virtually full decarbonisation over the next few years appears an incredible challenge requiring unprecedented investment and technological innovation. However, in many respects, decarbonising the power sector is considerably easier than decarbonising heat and transport as it is a regulated industry over which the state has considerable control through market instruments. Transport and heat solutions are much more the choice of the individual consumer, and as such, lend themselves less to government led change.

The three central tenets of policy to decarbonise the power sector are an extensive programme of nuclear new build, a technology proving and subsequent industrialisation of carbon capture and storage plant, and a radically ambitious deployment of offshore wind. Whilst offshore wind generation is fuelled by a free and abundant resource, it is intermittent (though statistically predictable), and this poses significant challenges to both grid management and long term revenue forecasting.


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