Grantham Scholar Jack Gower investigates long-duration energy storage on the UK energy markets with regards to the deployment of low-carbon energy technologies.
As the UK moves towards net-zero, the generation and delivery of electricity will only grow in importance due to the electrification of heat and increased deployment of electric vehicles. As part of reaching net-zero, intermittent renewable energy sources such as wind and solar power will continue to grow in capacity. While reducing emissions, without further management, this transition will reduce the energy security of the UK as the country could face extended periods with low wind and solar output due to weather. Given the need for this transition, ways to mitigate against this risk of insufficient supply must be pursued. Here, long-duration energy storage has a role to play, delivering electricity when supply decreases or demand increases.
The energy markets are where electricity is traded, with generators selling electricity and suppliers buying it to deliver to customers. Over the last 30 years, the UK has transitioned from centralised energy markets to largely decentralised energy markets. This means that instead of direct government control, the markets are regulated but independent. Under this structure, the businesses involved in markets are driven by the desire for profit. This influences their actions, such as whether to supply or purchase electricity, therefore dictating the electricity supply in the UK.
The project will use modelling techniques to investigate the markets under future energy scenarios, assessing how long-duration energy storage could fit within the UK energy markets. The decentralised nature of electricity delivery means that the design and regulation of the markets is key to influencing the electricity profile in the UK and is therefore integral to meeting net-zero targets. The aim for the project is to use the modelling work to suggest how policies could be designed and implemented to encourage the deployment of low-carbon energy technologies in the UK. This means looking at market dynamics and potential incentives, with decisions made by the government having a major impact on market participants and the country as a whole.