“Game-changing” long-duration energy storage projects to store power in hydrogen, compressed air and next-gen batteries win UK Government backing
EDF UK has received £2 million in funding from the Department for Energy Security and Net Zero (DESNZ) to support four innovative methods of storing energy for longer periods of time.
The four longer-duration energy storage demonstration projects will help to achieve the UK’s plan for net zero by balancing the intermittency of renewable energy, creating more options for sustainable, low-cost energy storage in the UK.
The funding forms part of the £1bn Net Zero Innovation Portfolio and is delivered through a £68 million programme that aims to increase the options for long-duration storage in the UK by scaling new longer-duration energy storage prototypes. Each of the unique projects will store energy over daily, weekly, or even monthly fluctuations, providing vital backup for times when renewable energy is not being produced.
The first project will store electricity as hydrogen in a chemical form using depleted uranium hydride (UH3). The project will utilise Urenco’s depleted uranium liability – a waste product from fuel production and reprocessed spent MOX fuel – to safely store hydrogen as UH3, which has approximately twice the volumetric energy density as liquid H2. The project will see EDF R&D lead a consortium combining expertise in engineering and materials from University of Bristol, operating metal hydride storage at UKAEA and handling depleted uranium from Urenco.
Pivot Power, part of EDF Renewables, will support the delivery of two demonstration projects. The first project, delivered in partnership with Invinity Energy Systems plc (AIM:IES), will establish the feasibility of developing one of the UK’s largest storage-enabled solar power resources. If selected, Phase Two of this project, which includes a utility-scale 10 MW / 40 MWh Invinity Vanadium Flow Battery, would receive funding under the programme.
Pivot Power will also work alongside e-Zinc, with support from Frontier Economics, to ‘metalize energy’, deploying breakthrough technology that stores energy in zinc, an inexpensive and widely available metal that has a high energy density.
The final project will explore how electricity, converted into compressed air, can be stored in EDF’s existing gas storage facilities, where EDF Thermal Generation and R&D will partner with io consulting and Hydrostor.
The projects are all supported by funding from DESNZ, through the Longer Duration Energy Storage Demonstration (LODES) innovation competition, which was launched last year. The competition aims to accelerate the commercialisation of innovative LODES projects at different technology readiness levels, through first-of-a-kind full-system prototypes or actual demonstrations.
Renewable capacity is growing at its fastest-ever rate and is predicted to accelerate further in the coming years1. To balance the intermittency of renewable energy in overcast or still weather conditions and manage seasonal fluctuations, new solutions are urgently required to store energy when supply is high. Research suggests that, by 2040, global LODES capacity must increase 400x compared to present-day levels, to 1.5–2.5 TW (85–140 TWh). Overall, 10% of all electricity generated will be stored in LDES at some point2.
To ensure that the UK’s net zero electricity system is resilient and secure, long-duration storage must be combined with short-duration methods, where electricity is stored on an hourly basis3. Pivot Power is already expanding the UK’s short-term energy storage capacity around the UK, which includes the world’s largest hybrid battery system, located at Energy Superhub Oxford. The project, which is due for completion this year, is one of the most ambitious urban decarbonisation schemes undertaken in the UK to date, combining both long and short-term energy storage with a powerful electric vehicle charging network.
Patrick Dupeyrat, R&D Director at EDF UK, said: “I’m delighted that EDF is involved in four innovative projects within the Longer Duration Energy Storage programme, covering a range of innovative technologies. These all have the potential to complement our zero carbon generation and battery storage assets to help Britain achieve Net Zero.”
Matt Allen, Co-Founder and CEO of Pivot Power, said: “Each of these technologies could be a gamechanger for net zero. Right now, the energy sector faces the trilemma of cutting carbon and costs while ensuring security of supply. While more renewables must be the first step to solving this puzzle, we cannot achieve this without a flexible and resilient grid. By storing electricity for longer periods of time, we can move away from fossil fuels faster, while reducing the overall cost of electricity and ensuring that electricity is secure and reliable.”
Energy & Climate Change Minister Greg Hands said: “Driving forward energy storage technologies will be vital in our transition towards cheap, clean and secure renewable energy.
“It will allow us to extract the full benefit from our home-grown renewable energy sources, drive down costs and end our reliance on volatile and expensive fossil fuels. Through this competition we are making sure the country’s most innovative scientists and thinkers have our backing to make this ambition a reality.”
1. IEA, 2021: Renewables 2021
2. McKinsey, 2021: Net zero power: Long duration energy storage for a renewable grid
3. Cárdenas, B.; Swinfen-Styles, L.; Rouse, J.; Garvey, S.D. Short-, Medium-, and Long-Duration Energy Storage in a 100% Renewable Electricity Grid: A UK Case Study. Energies 2021, 14, 8524
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About the projects
HyDUS (EDF UK R&D, University of Bristol, UKAEA and Urenco)
- Hydrogen (H2) will be stored in depleted uranium (U-238) in metal hydride form (UH3).
- The energy can be released by a reversible fuel cell, which deploys the electricity at times of high demand/low supply.
- The project will receive £150,000 of funding to store and purify hydrogen and utilise Urenco’s depleted uranium liability, helping Britain meet its Net Zero target.
- When stored as metal hydride (UH3), hydrogen has approximately two times the volumetric energy density as liquid H2, meaning that hydrogen can be stored more efficiently. As demand for hydrogen grows in a number of applications, including as a grid-balancing solution, the ability to store it in a safe, efficient way will be a key driver of the pace of net zero.
Invinity Energy Systems (with Pivot Power, part of EDF Renewables)
- Delivered by Invinity Energy Systems plc (AIM:IES), a leading global manufacturer of utility-grade energy storage, in partnership with Pivot Power, has been awarded over £700,000 funding for a feasibility study into the development of the UK’s largest co-located solar and energy storage project as well as the purchase of two Invinity VS3 units.
- These units will be manufactured and located at Invinity’s Bathgate facility, where they will be utilised for testing and validation purposes to support the project’s progression to Financial Close. If the outcome of Phase 1 is successful, the project will receive further funding to support the Phase 2 buildout.
- Phase 2 would see the delivery of a solar coupled 10 MW / 40 MWh Vanadium Flow Battery (VFB) site in the UK, which would directly avoid 27,400 tonnes of CO2 emissions per year and create an additional 46 green jobs through the generation of low cost, low carbon, dispatchable energy for the grid. It will also serve as a future template for other grid-constrained solar generation sites and accelerate the UK’s progress towards Net Zero.
- Larry Zulch, Chief Executive Officer at Invinity, said: “The LoDES initiatives are yet another demonstration of the UK’s commitment to building a thriving low carbon economy. Invinity greatly appreciates DESNZ’s vision for that future, especially the vital role that safe, reliable and robust long-duration energy storage has to play on a Net Zero UK electric grid. In realising that vision, we are tremendously pleased to be working again with DESNZ, Pivot Power and EDF to plan the deployment of a vanadium flow battery eight times the size of the one currently operating at Energy Superhub Oxford."
e-Zinc (with Pivot Power and Frontier Economics)
- A breakthrough technology that stores energy in zinc, an inexpensive and widely available metal that has a high energy density. The technology can be flexibly designed for a range of applications, from 5kW residential to 10MW grid-scale systems requiring 24 hours plus duration.
- The technology is safe, long-lasting, can operate at a wide range of temperatures and is completely recyclable. This project will build upon e-Zinc’s first commercial system which is scheduled to go live in Q1 2022 at a site near Toronto, Canada.
- The project aims to deliver a 24-hour LDES system of up to 100kW and will begin with a 5-month, £150,000 feasibility study to create a road map for the technology’s UK rollout and develop a demonstration site. Subject to the success of phase one, the second phase will see the technology built and operating for the first time in the UK.
- Pivot Power will provide a site for the demonstration of e-Zinc’s technology and lead on the project development and delivery. Frontier Economics will lead the techno-economic modelling, evaluation and reporting in phase one of the project.
Stratastore (with io consulting, Hydrostor, EDF Thermal Generation and EDF R&D).
- Storage of electricity as compressed air, potentially using mothballed EDF owned gas cavities in Cheshire, United Kingdom (UK).
- Energy will be stored as compressed air in the underground cavities at times of surplus, and then released when required to meet system demand – in a low carbon manner and while providing other system benefits, such as grid stability and flexibility services.
- The Consortium now has until January 2023 to work on the design and commercial aspects of the plant. The initial plan is to assess a 5 MW plant that could supply more than 8,000 homes, and how to scale up to a larger 100+ MW scheme.
About EDF in the UK
EDF is helping Britain achieve Net Zero by leading the transition to a cleaner, low emission electric future and tackling climate change. We are Britain’s biggest generator of zero carbon electricity – from our six nuclear power stations and more than thirty wind farms – meeting around one-fifth of the country’s demand. In addition to being one of the largest suppliers to British homes and businesses, we’re a leading supplier of innovative energy solutions that are helping our customers become more energy efficient and independent. We continue to invest in the UK’s low carbon energy infrastructure, constructing the first new nuclear power station in a generation at Hinkley Point C, leading the development of plans for Sizewell C in Suffolk, and construction, planning and development across a range of technologies including onshore and offshore wind, solar and battery storage. EDF is part of EDF Group, the world’s biggest electricity generator. In the UK we employ around 11,000 people. Visit www.edfenergy.com
About Pivot Power
Pivot Power, part of EDF Renewables, creates the low carbon infrastructure needed to future-proof our electricity system, integrate more renewable energy, and provide scalable capacity for electric vehicle charging. By creating a nationwide network of Energy Superhubs – combining big batteries and high-volume power connections – we are enabling rapid electric vehicle charging on a mass scale, powered by low carbon energy sources. A map of all our proposed Energy Superhubs can be found here.
Invinity Energy Systems plc (AIM:IES)
Invinity is a world-leading flow battery company, active across North America, the UK, mainland Europe, Australasia, Asia, and sub-Saharan Africa.
Developed specifically for high-utilisation applications, Invinity's highly scalable, factory-built flow battery products make low-carbon renewable generation reliable and can run continually with no degradation, charging and discharging for over 20 years. Energy storage systems based on Invinity's batteries are safe, reliable, and economical, and range in size from less than 250 kilowatt-hours to tens of megawatt-hours.
The company has a portfolio of more than 40 energy storage projects already in operation worldwide and is headquartered in Vancouver, Canada and London, UK with regional presence in the USA, South Africa and China. Invinity Energy Systems plc is listed on the London Stock Exchange (LSE:IES). Visit Invinity’s website for more information.
e-Zinc is a Toronto-based company with a breakthrough long-duration energy storage technology. The company’s zinc-based energy storage system can be up to 80 percent less expensive than comparable lithium-ion systems for long-duration applications. Importantly, its energy storage system can operate in cold and hot climates, is made of abundant and recyclable materials, and is completely safe.
About Frontier Economics
Frontier Economics is one of the largest economic consultancies in Europe with offices in Berlin, Brussels, Cologne, Dublin, London, Madrid and Paris. Frontier uses cutting edge economics to solve complex business and policy problems, and works with leading private and public sector organisations. Further information about Frontier is available here.
About io consulting
io consulting is a project architect in the energy and hydrocarbons sectors. Formed as a JV between Baker Hughes and McDermott with the mission to work in the early front end of projects, bringing our specific techno-economic expertise integrated with the access to technology and execution know-how of our parents and partner organisations. io is distinctive with its integrated strategic-techno-commercial capabilities ensuring a balanced approach between competing priorities capitalising on multi-discipline capabilities. Our approach is designed to provide clients with the confidence to invest and certainty that the selected concept and subsequent project can be delivered. Best considered as a systems integrator, io has deep domain expertise in the very early stages of major projects, specialised in identifying the key project drivers and bringing transparency to Tier 1 development decisions.
Hydrostor is a long-duration energy storage solutions provider that provides reliable and affordable utility integration of long-duration energy storage, enabling grid operators to scale renewable energy and secure grid capacity. Hydrostor supports the green economic transition, employing the people, suppliers, and technologies from the traditional energy sector to design, build, and operate emissions-free energy storage facilities. Hydrostor has developed, deployed, tested, and demonstrated that its patented Advanced Compressed Air Energy Storage (“A-CAES”) technology can provide long-duration energy storage and enable the renewable energy transition. A-CAES uses proven components from mining and gas operations to create a scalable energy storage system that is low-impact, cost-effective, 50+ year lifetime, and can store energy from 5 hours up to multi-day storage where needed. Hydrostor has projects worldwide in various development stages for providing capacity of over 200 MW each. Follow us on LinkedIn.
About University of Bristol
The University of Bristol, through its cutting-edge multidisciplinary research, are a champion for thinking differently about nuclear energy. Professor Tom Scott, a Royal Academy of Engineering Research Chair, leads the Interface Analysis Centre at the University of Bristol. The team’s research is applied to solving real ¬world problems, through their expertise in nuclear materials science, sensors and robotics. The HyDUS project is part of a coordinated activity to link hydrogen production and storage with nuclear sites. The University of Bristol will support the development of a system for energy storage that could have a transformative impact on the world’s future net-zero energy system.
For the past thirty-five years UKAEA has been responsible for the management and operation of the international research and development programme for the development of Fusion Power for the Joint European Torus (JET). The Hydrogen3 Advance Technology (H3AT) Business Unit of UKAEA has been involved in the transport and storage of Hydrogen isotopes (including tritium), including the design and build of uranium beds for such purposes.
Urenco is an international supplier of enrichment services and fuel cycle products with sustainability at the core of its business. Operating in a pivotal area of the nuclear fuel supply chain for 50 years, Urenco facilitates zero carbon electricity generation for consumers around the world.
As a project partner, Urenco will contribute depleted uranium material also known as tails, which is made as a by-product of the uranium enrichment process. Following the successful project demonstration, Urenco will contribute to the commercial implementation of this innovative hydrogen storage technology.