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Government must ‘act now’ on energy storage or risk energy security and net zero

A House of Lords committee has warned the Government that it must “act fast” to ensure long-duration energy storage technologies can scale up in time to play a vital role in decarbonising the electricity system and ensuring energy security by 2035.

The Science and Technology Committee has today, published a new report ‘Long-duration energy storage: get on with it’, which concludes that major decisions about future energy infrastructure must be taken and implemented urgently. It states a coordinated effort is needed to unlock investment in long-duration energy storage and to ensure a strategic reserve of storage is delivered both to achieve Net Zero and to insulate the UK from future energy supply shocks such as the 2021–22 energy crisis.

Whilst the Committee welcomes the Government’s recent reforms to the energy system, such as committing to delivering a Strategic Spatial Energy Plan, the report raises concerns that it is not clear who will be responsible for implementing this plan or how future energy supply crises will be managed.

The report calls on the Government to:

  • commit to a strategic reserve in the form of long-duration energy storage which will be vital for energy security;
  • urgently make key decisions and coordinate the delivery of its energy system plan;
  • set an explicit minimum target for long-duration energy storage;
  • set out the details of its long-duration storage business model;
  • clarify the role of hydrogen in the future energy system and deliver no-regrets investments in hydrogen production and storage;
  • act with urgency and reduce timelines for grid connection and planning delays;
  • engage and communicate with the public to ensure support for vital hydrogen and electricity infrastructure.

Baroness Brown of Cambridge, Chair of the Committee, said: “Wind and solar offer cheap, domestic electricity and will form the core of the expanded and decarbonised grid needed to deliver Net Zero in the UK. But their generation varies over time with the weather. Long-duration energy storage technologies are essential to allow the UK to maintain security of supply with a high proportion of renewable generation on the grid.  

“The combination of renewables with energy storage will enable the UK to build an economy insulated from dependence on volatile energy markets and imported fossil fuels. But storage isn’t just about batteries. Long duration storage that can store energy for days, weeks and even years will be key, and offers the prospect of the UK being able to build an energy storage industry.

“In light of the huge economic damage the recent energy crisis has caused, it is distressing to see that the Government lacks a clear plan for energy supply risks and indeed is still deliberating over investment in long-duration storage to prevent future crises. A strategic reserve of electricity storage is a critical investment to secure the UK’s energy supply against future shocks, but the Government is still equivocating over whether it is necessary to invest in one.

“Since 2023, the Government has had a Department for Energy Security and Net Zero. Long-duration energy storage is critical for ensuring the UK can have both, so it must be a key priority for the Department.

“The Government says it wants to deploy enough storage both to balance and to decarbonise the electricity system by 2035, but we are not on track. Long-duration energy storage facilities can take 7–10 years to build, so action is needed now to ensure the private sector sees a clear case to invest and to slash planning delays and grid connection queues if we are to have the required infrastructure in place by 2035.

“Our report highlights the clear benefits of investing in long-duration storage, including energy and economic security, avoiding waste of renewable electricity, and allowing us to deploy more cheap renewable power, reducing customer bills. However, time is running out for the UK to secure that brighter future.

“The Government must take action now.”

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