New funding unveiled for energy storage and other smart technologies

Image: Cabinet Office Flickr/ Crown Copyright.

The government has released plans to spend £28 million on reducing the cost of energy storage, advancing demand side response technologies and improving energy efficiency measures for UK industry.

After putting storage and energy efficiency at the centre of new efforts to reduce the cost of decarbonisation, the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) has today unveiled the new funding across a range of initiatives.

Under the new investment announced by Nick Hurd, minister of state for climate change and industry, up to £9 million will be spent on a competition to reduce the cost of energy storage, including electricity, thermal, and power-to-gas storage. This will include a further £600,000 for feasibilities studies of potential large-scale future storage demonstrators.

Applicants will be able to apply to two tranches under the energy storage cost reduction competition in March and June, while registration for the energy storage feasibility study competition is be required by 27 April.

Hurd said: “Innovation in energy will play an important role to shape our low carbon future to rebuild an outdated energy system. That’s why we’ve increased our financial support, helping to create jobs and opportunities for people across the UK.”

BEIS failed to include any support for mature renewable energy technologies in its industrial strategy, instead opting for offshore wind. This has continued in today’s funding announcements, with £1.3 million to be invested in an Offshore Wind Innovation Hub.

Up to £7.6 million will also be available for demonstrator projects intended to advance energy demand side response technologies, with 9.2 million to be spent on an industrial energy efficiency accelerator.

Despite the lack of support for solar, which the government has all but moved away from following cuts to the feed-in tariff and the upcoming closure of the Renewables Obligation, the new support for other low carbon technologies has been welcomed.

James Court, head of policy and external affairs at the Renewable Energy Association, said: “This funding announcement by the government is good news for the industry and will support competition, the deployment of emerging projects and the potential for the breakthrough of new products.

“The announcement, in association with the Industrial Strategy paper released on Monday, indicates the kind of cross-departmental coordination that is now needed to remove some of the major policy barriers that the industry is facing to help deployment take off.

“In particular, while R&D funding is welcome, many technologies are now ready to deploy at scale in the UK, and need policy changes to do so.”

The government has yet to respond to its smart energy system consultation which closed earlier this month but has already begun making policy and funding decisions. As well as the new funding announced today, a new system operator company is to be set up within National Grid Group in an attempt to prepare the energy system for the future while removing any possible conflicts of interest.

The only word from government on possible future support for solar is the claim that it is “thinking through” ways to drive established renewable technologies towards subsidy-free deployment.