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?

Solar and battery storage to make up 81% of new power capacity in US

28/02/2024

This addition would be 55% greater added capacity than the 40.4 GW added in 2023 (the most since 2003) and points to a continued rise in industry acti...

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Iberdrola develops Spain’s first hybrid hydroelectric project

28/02/2024

The project aims to allow a ‘faster and more flexible’ coupling to the grid of the current hydroelectric pumping between the rivers Sil and Xares, wit...

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Ship-based carbon capture demonstration pilot suggests capture rates up to 85% are achievable

28/02/2024

The SBCC demonstration project is being run by the EverLoNG international project consortium*. The technology was installed onboard the Seapeak Arwa, ...

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$2tn a year needed to triple global renewables by 2030 and ensure ‘energy for all’

28/02/2024

‘$2tn a year sounds like a cost, but it’s really a choice. We’re set to invest over $6tn in fossil fuels over this decade – more than enough to close ...

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Enthusiastic response to European Hydrogen Bank pilot auction

28/02/2024

The pilot auction proved so popular that the total support requested from the EC’s European Hydrogen Bank far exceeds the currently available budget o...

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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