(REPOST: Open Access Government)
In a speech in November 2017, the UK Energy Secretary Greg Clark set out an apparently ambitious vision of UK energy policy in general and for battery energy storage in particular. What is more, the UK’s Faraday Challenge comes with a promise of £246 million to boost expertise in battery technology.
While the UK has generally been one of the leading advocates of a greener, more sustainable energy policy over the past few decades, it has always been more ambivalent when it comes to committing significant sums of hard public cash. While just under a quarter of a billion pounds is still modest compared to the R&D budgets of some of the world’s leading corporations (Amazon alone is set to invest roughly 50 times that sum in overall R&D in 2017), it nonetheless represents an important step forward.
Battery storage matters of course because, based on current knowledge, it offers the most efficient and practical way of converting energy into a form where it can be stored safely, and in a limited space (an important factor for buildings, especially for homes) and then be available for instant use “on demand”. Given that the key renewable energies, wind and solar, are inherently irregular, this form of storage is crucial to their development.
Clark’s stated aim is no less than “to ensure that the UK is the place in the world where new battery technology especially in combination with the auto sector is not just developed but is commercialised”.