Generation Integrated Energy Storage - A Paradigm Shift

Lead Research Organisation: University of Birmingham
Department Name: Chemical Engineering

Abstract

This project will assess a class of systems that blend electricity generation and storage, to understand the role that they could play in future energy systems. Their ability to deliver low-carbon energy on demand, at low system cost, will be investigated from technical, economic, and policy standpoints.

With a growing fraction of electricity consumption being supplied by variable renewable energy sources, the ability to match energy generation and energy consumption is rapidly taking centre stage. Flexible ('dispatchable') coal and gas plants are being displaced to lower carbon emissions. At present, both nuclear and renewable energy technologies are generally configured to generate as much electricity as possible, regardless of the electricity demand at the time. Standalone energy storage, in which surplus electricity is converted to an intermediate energy form and then back again, is emerging as a vital partner to these generation technologies but it is prohibitively expensive for the duties that will be required in the near future. Active management of electricity demand (by shutting down or deferring loads) and electrical interconnections with neighbouring countries will also play important roles but these also have costs and they will not obviate the need for storage.

This project will build a deep understanding of a class of system which takes a different and potentially much lower cost approach. These Generation Integrated Energy Storage (GIES) systems, store energy in a convenient form before converting it to electricity on demand. The hypothesis is that the lowest cost and highest performance storage can be achieved by integrating generation and storage within one system. This avoids the expense and inefficiency of transforming primary energy (e.g. wind, solar, nuclear) into electricity, then into an intermediate form, and later back to electricity. For example, the heat produced by a concentrating solar power plant can be stored at far lower cost and with lower losses than producing electricity directly and operating a standalone electricity store.

A broad range of opportunities exist for low-carbon GIES systems, in both renewable and nuclear applications. The research team's expertise in wind, nuclear, and liquefied air storage will be applied directly to GIES systems in all three. The project will also establish a framework for the wider significance of GIES to energy systems. Technical and thermodynamic metrics that characterise high performing GIES systems will be developed, and used to compare with standalone generation and storage equivalents. The theoretical groundwork laid by this research will have applications far beyond the current project. Opportunities for current and future technologies will be mapped out and publicised, supporting and accelerating further work in the field. The deployment and operation of such technologies will be modelled by means of a pragmatic real options economic analysis. The unique policy and economic considerations of fusing generation and storage will be reviewed in detail, considering challenges and proposing solutions to regulatory and financial hurdles. Taken in concert, these will determine the value and scope for substantial deployment of GIES systems.

In bringing to light the potential of the class of GIES systems, the research team will rectify a gap in energy systems thinking, in time to inform what will be a multi-billion pound expenditure in the coming decade. By providing the tools to analyse and deploy these systems, the research will open up a new avenue for cost-effective flexibility across the energy infrastructure of the UK and other regions worldwide.

Publications

10 25 50
 
Description Member of EPSRC Energy Scientific Advisory Committee
Geographic Reach National 
Policy Influence Type Membership of a guideline committee
URL http://epsrc.ukri.org/research/ourportfolio/themes/energy/programme/further-information-about-the-pr...
 
Description Supergen Storage Network Plus 2019
Amount £1,012,009 (GBP)
Funding ID EP/S032622/1 
Organisation Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) 
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom
Start 09/2019 
End 08/2023
 
Description 1st CPFL International Workshop for Energy Storage 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Industry/Business
Results and Impact The "1st CPFL International Workshop for Energy Storage" gathered technical, commercial and regulatory knowledge, approaching how Energy Storage is being discussed internationally. The event also aimed to share experiences and knowledge about the theme for the electrical sector and show the importance of energy storage systems associated or not to Distributed Generation. This opportunity was to bring knowledge of another component of Smart Grids and allow evaluate the possibilities of new business, in addition to the improvement in the electrical energy supply.
Over 50 people attended the workshop with live streaming of the event. Questions and discussions followed presentations, informing participants.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
URL http://www.rge-rs.com.br/energias-sustentaveis/inovacao/workshop-energy-storage/Paginas/default.aspx
 
Description Contribution to IEA Expert Group on R&D Priority Setting and Evaluation 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Policymakers/politicians
Results and Impact The goal of the workshop was to learn from examples of how the transition from blue skies research to application has been successfully undertaken in other sectors for example, space research, medicine or solid state physics in the context of microelectronics, and to identify from current basic research selected areas or ideas that might potentially have a huge impact on the energy sector. This should inform an understanding of how different governments engage in, fund, and structure their investments in energy-related basic science programmes.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
URL http://www.ieadsm.org/wp/files/IEA_EGRD_Blue_Sky_Workshop_Final.pdf
 
Description Energy Research Partnership meeting on 'Net Zero' 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Industry/Business
Results and Impact Presentation by me, followed by discussion in plenary, on the role of energy storage in 'net zero' scenarios for the energy system.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019,2020
 
Description Presentation at International Flow Battery Forum 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Industry/Business
Results and Impact The purpose of the IFBF is to raise the profile of flow batteries as a crucial technology within the electrical energy storage sector, to educate and inform a wide audience of the benefits, features and attributes of flow batteries. >200 delegates from 24 countries attended.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
URL http://www.flowbatteryforum.com/ifbf-2017/