26 Apr 2022
University of Oxford wins funding to investigate grid energy storage, with potential for significant carbon emissions savings
Project will identify how to locate and operate energy storage to maximise renewable energy generation and reduce fossil fuel generation
To move away from fossil-fuelled generation to clean sources of energy such as wind and solar, substantial amounts of energy storage could be required to meet net-zero targets. Energy storage systems such as batteries are key to providing grid stability and ensuring that energy is available when it is needed.
However, it is not clear whether the financial and environmental benefits of grid storage currently align. For example, if storage is placed far from excess renewable generation, on the other side of a congested network, then it may be charged from fossil-fuelled power stations.
The Battery Intelligence Lab at the University of Oxford has been awarded EPSRC funding to investigate the optimal integration of grid energy storage, following on from the group’s work on the Energy Superhub Oxford (ESO) project. The research will be led by Professor David Howey at the Department of Engineering Science with collaborators at the University of Edinburgh and Imperial College London, and will also involve National Grid plus lead ESO project partner Pivot Power.
The project will enable greater grid carbon emissions savings by demonstrating how energy storage may best be sited and controlled from an environmental perspective.
The research project focuses on integration of grid energy storage, aiming to demonstrate the carbon emissions savings possible by optimally locating and operating storage to avoid curtailment of renewables and additional fossil fuel generation. The researchers will test two hypotheses, the first that strong carbon emission benefits could occur if the location-specific impacts of storage during dispatch are accounted for, and the second that optimal placement of storage within the power network enables accelerated build of clean energy generators.
Professor Howey explains, “We will build a model of the GB transmission grid, coupled with a market model and models of energy storage systems, and use this to investigate several scenarios, grouped broadly into two areas: First, what is the emissions performance of existing and soon-to-be-built energy storage, and how could emissions be optimally reduced by dispatching storage differently? Second, how will the emissions performance of the grid evolve over the next 5, 10 and 15 years considering planned generation and storage, planned grid upgrades, and new demand.” Ultimately, he adds, the project will enable greater grid carbon emissions savings by demonstrating how energy storage may best be sited and controlled from an environmental perspective.
A sister project, ‘Energy Storage Integration for a Net Zero Grid’, headed up by the University of Sheffield with Oxford’s contribution led by Associate Professor of Engineering Science Dan Rogers, will determine how different energy storage devices and technologies can be integrated into the grid to achieve the UK’s net zero by 2050 target.