Energy networks and storage

Join the EI» Manage your membership»
Join the EI» Manage your membership»

A record high 5 GW of battery storage capacity was added worldwide in 2020, bringing the total capacity to around 17 GW

Energy storage allows for flexibility in the timing of when energy is supplied and when it is used. Energy storage comes in a number of forms, including chemical, kinetic, thermal, gravitational potential, electromagnetic, electrochemical and osmotic potential. The choice of storage solution depends on location as well as reserve service required, since different technologies can provide different capacities and durations of storage. Storage of solid, liquid and gaseous fuels has been commonplace for centuries; as the low carbon transition requires integration of increasing intermittent renewable sources into the system, energy storage is becoming integral for reducing dependency on fossil fuels and achieving a flexible, resilient energy network. Strategic placement of storage also gives the potential to avoid otherwise necessary network upgrades and curtailment of expensive assets. Greater connectivity between different energy networks, i.e. interconnection across national grids, can allow for security of supply without needing additional generation capacity.

Energy storage has applications varying from small-scale local systems in homes or commercial buildings – which are becoming increasingly common alongside the rise of distributed generation – to utility-scale storage systems. Common examples of energy storage include batteries (mainly lithium-ion) which store electricity as chemical energy, pumped hydroelectric storage systems which store gravitational potential energy in elevated reservoirs, and ice storage tanks which store thermal energy by freezing water with cheaper energy at night to meet peak cooling demand in daytime. Surplus renewable electricity can also be used to produce energy carriers like hydrogen, enabling the storage of renewable energy for long periods. Electric vehicles can also function as storage systems, since electricity can be transferred both to and from the batteries of plugged-in vehicles when needed. With energy storage expected to play a greater role towards a low-carbon and sustainable energy future, various storage technologies must be evaluated to balance the trade-offs between life-cycle cost, efficiency, material sustainability and safety.

Learn more about storage by reading our Energy Insights.

Read our New Energy World articles on how energy storage fits into strategies for carbon reduction.

Learn about recent public funding for research and development of energy storage on our policy milestone calendar.

What's new?

Biden’s $739bn climate deal set to deliver the biggest climate investment in US history

03/08/2022

Biden hailed the congressional deal as the biggest single climate investment in US history. The deal promises to raise taxes on high earners and corpo...

Read more »

Global nuclear generation rose 4% in 2021; UK closes Hinkley Point B

03/08/2022

Reactor performance is also reported to have improved, with the average capacity factor of the world’s operating nuclear reactors rising to 82.4%, up ...

Read more »

First big battery to deliver grid-scale inertia services

03/08/2022

The 150 MW/193.5 MWh HPR is Australia’s second largest lithium-ion battery and is based on Tesla’s ‘virtual machine mode’ technology which allows adva...

Read more »

EU taxonomy changes could lead to new nuclear projects and more expensive gas

03/08/2022

The challenge for gas is twofold: abatement technologies are not yet market-ready at scale and their costs, once implemented, are likely to boost pric...

Read more »

European Space Agency going green with launch of Spaceport hydrogen plan

03/08/2022

The project – known as HYGUANE (HYdrogène GUyanais A Neutralité Environnementale) – aims to establish a pilot plant within the Spaceport capable of pr...

Read more »

Events and training

British Institute for Energy Economics Policy Conference 2022

22/09/2022

Register at https://www.biee.org/conference/biee-policy-conference-2022/ 

Read more »

Hazardous Area Classification - October 2022

11/10/2022 - 13/10/2022

This 3-day training course will provide delegates with training on the Energy Institute Model Safe Code of Practice 15, Area Classification for Instal...

Read more »

Energy Storage Fundamentals for Energy Security - November 2022

03/11/2022 - 04/11/2022

This course is also available as a self-paced online course here. This 2-day classroom training course allows you to gain a comprehensive understan...

Read more »

Key Energy 2022

08/11/2022 - 11/11/2022

Read more »

Reservoir Microbiology Forum (RMF) 2022

16/11/2022 - 17/11/2022

The RMF is an excellent multi-disciplinary platform that brings together oil producers, scientists, technologists, engineers, academics and researcher...

Read more »

Technical guidance publications

Battery storage research report: Using second-life electric vehicle batteries for stationary storage

2022

This publication is free to download. Please log in to see the download option.This research report aims to set out the issues related to the use of '...

Read more »

Research report: The assurance of liner integrity during tank floor works on above-ground storage tanks holding petroleum, petroleum product or other fuels

2022

This technical publication is intended to provide guidance on the assurance of liner integrity during tank floor works on above-ground storage tanks h...

Read more »

Assessing environmental impacts of energy storage technologies for grid scale applications

2022

ObjectivesThe objective of this project is to produce a guidance document with two main aims:To summarise the key environmental, material and other su...

Read more »

Research report: Application of life cycle assessment methodology to the understanding of the energy balance and efficiency of hydrogen value chain building blocks

2022

This document is free to download for registered users.This publication explores the efficiencies of the hydrogen energy system and quantifies the ene...

Read more »

Waste to products – Technology and economic assessment (phase 1)

2022

This document is free to download for registered users.The EMG and Soil Wastes and Groundwater group (SWG) of the EI and Concawe have commissioned E4t...

Read more »

You may also be interested in

Energy Insight: Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) and Carbon Capture Usage and Storage (CCUS) in the UK

Read our Energy Insight on Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) and Carbon Capture Usage and Storage (CCUS) in the UK