Chancellor George Osborne has said the UK must become an international leader in the development of low carbon technologies such as energy storage.

In a speech to scientists at the Royal Society today, the Chancellor outlined a range of technologies in which Britain currently has an “edge”, but could become a world leader.

Among these Osborne cited energy storage. He said that despite a strong research base Britain lacked the capacity to trial the new grid-scale storage technologies that would be needed in the future.

Electricity storage is seen as a key technology in the development of renewable energy, as it provides back up to intermittent generators such as solar or wind at times of high demand or low power production.

“Research projects are delivering but the UK currently lacks the test-bed demonstrator capacity and dedicated R&D facilities to take the next step in developing and testing new grid-scale energy storage technologies. We need to create them,” Osborne said.

The Chancellor also announced £20 million for university research into the application of synthetic biology in areas such as the production of low-carbon fuel.

Osborne has become widely regarded as the main obstacle within government to green growth and the wider adoption of renewable energy, so the referencing of a number of clean technologies in speech will be a welcome sign to critics that he is supportive of the sector.

However the Chancellor made no specific policy or funding pledges to support the UK’s work on energy storage.

And he made no reference to the future development of renewable energies such as offshore wind, in which the UK is also seen as having the potential to lead the rest of the world but has yet to exploit fully.

Osborne is believed to be opposed to the inclusion of a target to decarbonise UK energy production by 2030 in the forthcoming Energy Bill through the development of low carbon energy generation.