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?

Mass electrification only possible with heavy investment

28/09/2022

Three quarters (76%) of the 400 senior energy professionals contacted in 75 countries say existing grid infrastructure can’t adequately connect renewa...

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Pakistan’s hydropower projects need reassessment, says IEEFA

28/09/2022

Hydropower has accounted for almost 30% of the power generated in Pakistan over the years, but the country’s long-term goal for it to meet 46% of the ...

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UK government plans to cut business energy bills and bolster domestic energy security

28/09/2022

A new Energy Bill Relief Scheme will provide a discount on the wholesale price of gas and electricity. Equivalent to the Energy Price Guarantee put in...

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Decarbonising the energy system by 2050 ‘could save trillions’

21/09/2022

The research shows a win-win-win scenario, in which rapidly transitioning to clean energy results in lower energy system costs than a fossil fuel syst...

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ADNOC to complete first phase of waste heat recovery project as it accelerates GHG emissions targets

21/09/2022

ADNOC claims to produce some of the world’s least-carbon intensive crude and says it is further reducing its greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions intensity ...

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Events and training

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...

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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...

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Key Energy 2022

08/11/2022 - 11/11/2022

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Aviation Jet Fuel - November 2022

22/11/2022 - 24/11/2022

This 3-day training course will provide delegates with an overview of aviation jet fuel, focusing on the jet engine, its underlying principles and fue...

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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 '...

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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...

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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...

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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...

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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...

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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