Battery storage rollout needs £20bn government investment to support renewables goals

Utility-scale battery storage systems are helping to support the transition to renewables. Image: Anesco

The battery storage rollout needs to continue its upwards trajectory, with increased government spending required, according to new data from Cornwall Insight.

In order to meet 2030 renewables targets – including up to 50GW of offshore wind – increased levels of GB battery storage will be needed, with Cornwall Insight suggesting that almost 10% of grid capacity will be provided by battery storage by 2030.

This increase in battery storage capacity will be needed to address stability and flexibility requirements as a result of the rise of intermittent renewables on the grid, with coal capacity due to close in the next few years and nuclear and combined cycle gas turbine capacity ageing and approaching retirement.

” . . .a significant investment will be needed to develop new technologies to compensate for these capacity losses while delivering on the government’s offshore wind targets and net zero legislation,” Tom Edwards, senior modellor at Cornwall Insight, said.

Nearly a fifth of the government’s total energy technologies investment will need to be spent on energy storage batteries between 2025 and 2030, with an estimated £20 billion cost.

And although the cost of batteries is expected to fall as more are deployed, material costs following the wider rise in commodity prices across the world and supply chain issues in major battery production centres are still likely to be the main hurdle for a major rollout of battery projects, Cornwall Insight said.

Battery storage deployment is rising, with Q2 2021 seeing a record amount of battery storage applications submitted, with the pipeline of utility-scale battery storage projects reaching over 20GW across 800 projects.

Last year, Solar Media Market Research’s Mollie McCorkindale took a look at the factors behind the drive now from 1GW to 10GW, and how much annual deployment can be expected in the next few years.

Edwards said: “Batteries are by no means the end of the story and to meet energy market requirements and ensure a stable supply for consumers, other technologies including long-duration storage, hydrogen, nuclear, interconnection and CCUS will also need significant investment.”

The government is currently targeting 5GW of low carbon hydrogen production capacity by 2030, launching a £375 million support package for nuclear, hydrogen and carbon capture, utilisation and storage in April.

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