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?

Dark cloud over Indonesia’s pledge to achieve net zero emissions by 2060 – says IEEFA think tank

21/02/2024

The lowering of Indonesia’s renewable energy ambitions is at odds with the direction of travel of much of the rest of the world and the landmark agree...

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Special pylon tour wows girl, 4, but others remain less enthusiastic

21/02/2024

The visit by four-year-old Lucy, from Blackpool, recently went viral on TikTok when her mother Sophie posted a video capturing her daughter’s special ...

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Global LNG demand is set to grow significantly beyond 2040, driven by Far East markets; plus African project news

21/02/2024

Shell’s LNG Outlook 2024 report notes that global trade in LNG reached 404mn tonnes in 2023, up from 397mn tonnes in 2022, with tight supplies of LNG ...

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Power grids require $3.1tn investment worldwide by 2030

21/02/2024

In that scenario, Rystad Energy predicts that an additional 18mn km of grid network would be needed to keep pace with the electrification underway acr...

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Shell joins wave powered subsea energy project

14/02/2024

The £2mn demonstrator initiative aims to show how green technologies can be combined to provide reliable low-carbon power and communications to subsea...

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Events and training

Hazardous Area Classification - May 2024

21/05/2024 - 23/05/2024

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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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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IP 387: Determination of filter blocking tendency

2024

This standard specifies a method for the determination of the filter blocking tendency (FBT) and filterability of middle distillate fuel oils and non-...

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IP 463: Determination of the presence of phenalenes and phenalenones in middle distillate fuels which affect potential instability - Rapid method by portable spectrophotometer

2024

This standard specifies an ambient temperature procedure for the rapid determination of the presence of compounds in middle distillate fuels which aff...

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Research report: Assessing environmental impacts of energy storage technologies for grid scale applications

2023

This report is free to download for subscribers.  Register or log in to download.Energy storage is a key element for effectively harnessing ...

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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