Energy networks and storage

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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?

UK government’s week one energy initiatives

17/07/2024

  New UK National Wealth Fund to unlock private investmentThe new UK Labour government’s Chancellor Rachel Reeves and Business Secretary Jon...

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North-east US states form grid collaborative

17/07/2024

The MOU signatories include New Jersey, Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, Rhode Island and Vermont. The ...

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‘World’s first’ trial begins to recycle CO2 captured at steel plant in Belgium

17/07/2024

The new trial expands the current multi-year carbon capture pilot taking place at the Ghent site to evaluate the feasibility of full-scale deployment ...

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EBRD invests $229.4mn for BESS in Uzbekistan; funding for Australian battery roll-out announced

10/07/2024

  Funding secured for Uzbek BESS and solar power plantThe EBRD is to provide up to $229.4mn to Saudi’s ACWA Power to develop a 500 MWh BESS ...

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CCUS – a $196bn investment opportunity

10/07/2024

According to its latest report, CCUS: 10-year market forecast, the $196bn of investment is crucial for increasing global carbon capture capacity to 44...

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Events and training

Reservoir Microbiology Forum (RMF)

13/11/2024 - 14/11/2024

Programme to be announced soon.The RMF is an excellent multi-disciplinary platform that brings together oil producers, scientists, technologists, engi...

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Hazardous Area Classification - November 2024

19/11/2024 - 21/11/2024

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

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Technical guidance publications

PELG Petrol filling stations - Guidance on managing the risks of fire and explosion (The Red Guide)

2024

Petrol filling stations: Guidance on managing the risks of fire and explosion (the Red Guide) has been jointly developed by industry, regulators ...

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IP 467: Determination of the high temperature stability of middle distillate fuel

2024

This standard specifies a procedure for the assessment of the relative stability of middle distillate fuels under high temperature ageing conditions w...

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Research report: Global activities in hydrogen development

2024

This report covers various developmental activities across the hydrogen value chain, encompassing production, transportation/distribution, storage, an...

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Good plant design and operation for onshore and offshore carbon capture installations and pipelines

2024

This publication is an update to the Good plant design and operation for onshore carbon capture installations and onshore pipelines published in 2010....

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Hazard analysis for onshore and offshore carbon capture installations and pipelines

2024

This publication is an update to the Technical guidance on hazard analysis for onshore carbon capture installations and onshore pipelines and EI Resea...

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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