Energy networks and storage

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?

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...

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EC proposes gas demand reduction plan as Nordstream comes back online and UK looks to reopen Rough

27/07/2022
The plan proposes to reduce gas use in Europe by 15% until next spring. Noting that almost half of the European Union’s (EU) member states have alread...

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Viritech unveils new hydrogen ‘hypercar’

13/07/2022
The cleantech engineering company says first deliveries of a limited series of the 1,000 bhp hypercar, styled by Pininfarina and weighing less than 1,...

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UK’s biggest ever renewables auction secures record amount of low carbon energy

13/07/2022
Nearly double the capacity achieved in the previous round, the energy was secured across a range of clean technologies, including offshore wind, solar...

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Roadmap for large-scale green hydrogen import to Germany

06/07/2022
The roadmap has been developed by the Green Hydrogen Taskforce, which was created earlier this year by FFI and German energy, industrial and technolog...

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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/ 

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Hazardous Area Classification - October 2022

11/10/2022
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
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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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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