National battery research centre announced

Greg Clark, Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, has announced the formation of a new national battery technology research institute: the Faraday Battery Institute. This will be based at the Harwell Campus, close to both the Rutherford Appleton Laboratory and major automotive industry players.

The institute will strategically manage a programme of research and training to meet the overall batteries challenge. The research funding calls will be tailored to engage industrial and academic participants from across the UK and further afield.

The University of Oxford leads a consortium of seven academic institutions (see below for the full list), which will shape the Institute’s strategic programme of fundamental, application driven research. The team will have initial funding of £65 million from the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund and is part of the UK government’s £246 million investment in battery technology.

The core aim of the institute is to ensure that the UK remains a world leader in novel battery technologies and energy storage for electric vehicles, cementing the future of the UK automotive industry. The team will run funding calls, develop a training programme and provide a national hub to promote research and its translation to address a wide range of energy challenges.

The first call, the Batteries for Britain scheme, is already up and running. In these “Fast Start” projects, the team are looking to fund projects on tackling battery degradation, the all-solid-state battery, multi-scale modelling and the circular economy/recycling.

As part of the Government’s Industrial Strategy portfolio, the Faraday Battery Institute will work closely with the National Battery Manufacturing Development facility. This will focus on developing manufacturing technologies for batteries and their components and will enable rapid scaling of new research developments into industry. The plan is for these two institutions to work collaboratively and support research throughout the entire battery ecosystem, from fundamental research to commercial products.

The Faraday Battery Institute will be funded through the Government’s Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund and the initiative is supported by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research CouncilInnovate UK and the Advanced Propulsion Centre.

The full list of partners in the consortium is Oxford UniversityImperial College LondonUniversity College LondonUniversity of WarwickUniversity of CambridgeUniversity of Southampton and Newcastle University.


Plan to replace UK coal power station with natural gas and 200 MW of batteries

The coal-fired Drax Power Station in North Yorkshire could be enhanced by the addition of a 200 MW battery energy storage extension, in a plan to extend its operational lifetime and enhance its flexible and responsive capability.

The UK power company Drax, predominantly a biomass-fuelled generator, has given notice to the Planning Inspectorate of its intention to consult on long-term options that would include building the battery at Drax Power Station alongside plans for 3.6GW of new gas generation capacity.

The plans, which would also see two coal units repowered to gas, are subject to a positive investment decision and would need to be underpinned by a 15-year capacity market contract.


If it goes ahead, the development will help to keep energy costs low and ease the phase-out of coal, providing much-needed grid support services as further coal-fired stations go offline.

Andy Koss, chief executive of Drax Power, said: “We are at the start of the planning process but if developed these options for gas and battery storage show how Drax could upgrade our existing infrastructure to provide capacity, stability and essential grid services, as we do with biomass. This would continue to keep costs low for consumers and help to deliver Government’s commitment to remove coal from the UK grid.

“Drax Power Station is a national asset and a significant driver of economic growth in the North of England. These options could repurpose up to two of our coal assets and extend their operation into the 2030s.”

Source article: Energy Storage News

Good Energy begins ‘first of many’ energy storage projects

Good Energy aims to start work on its maiden commercial energy storage development in November this year, after their May launch of a US$10 million corporate bond offer to fund work in the stationary energy storage and EV charger sectors.

Good Energy offers its customers energy from fully renewable sources and appears to be targeting the commercial and industrial market, through advising its business customers on how behind the meter storage applications could enable them to better manage onsite renewable generation, electricity consumption and the cost of electricity.

The firm has revealed it is currently working on a technical storage solution with one of its long standing business customers, with a view to exchanging contracts in October and starting works the month after. “This will be the first of many storage projects we will undertake for our customers and shows an innovative commercial approach to a growing market,” the company stated.


‘Fit-for-growth’ restructuring plan

The energy storage and EV charging divisions form part of a significant shift in strategy at Good, which chief executive Juliet Davenport said had contributed towards a year of “transition” at the firm she founded in 1999. The firm has spent nearly £1 million (US$1.33 million) on a restructuring programme dubbed ‘Fit-for-growth’. “So far in 2017 we’ve made very good progress on the strategic direction of Good Energy by adapting our business model in a highly competitive and dynamic energy market.

“Our Fit-for-Growth programme and investment in our digital capabilities and systems are crucial first steps and, with further investment in our core business and the start of our new propositions in electric vehicles and storage planned in the second half of the year, we believe Good Energy is well positioned to succeed in the energy marketplace for the future,” Davenport said.

Source article: Energy Storage News

Review of Future Energy Scenarios and the BEIS/Ofgem Upgrade Plan

written by Dr. Jacqueline Edge, Imperial College London

Last month saw the launch of two key documents influencing the future of energy storage in the UK:

  1. National Grid launched its Future Energy Scenarios on Thursday 13th July, aimed at shining a light on the uncertain pathway to 2050 for UK energy. The document sets out a number of credible pathways, based on the energy trilemma (security of supply, sustainability and affordability) and analyses the impact of each on UK energy infrastructures.
  2. The Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) and Ofgem launched their plan for Upgrading our Energy System on Monday 24th July, a document which sets out the plan for integrating both smart technology and flexibility into the UK’s electricity grid.


National Grid’s Future Energy Scenarios

How things are (2016):
Future Energy Scenarios presents a number of summary figures for the current UK energy system:

  • The generating capacity from renewables was 34 GW, a 34 % share of the total installed capacity.
  • The installed capacity from distributed generation in 2016 was 26 GW (27 % of total installed capacity).
  • Electricity storage capacity totalled 4 GW in 2016.
  • Electricity peak demand was around 60 GW in 2016.


How things are expected to change:

  • Electricity demand will both increase and change in shape, potentially reaching peaks as high as 85 GW in 2050, driven initially by electric vehicles and later on by heat demand.
  • Electricity storage capacity could reach 6 GW by 2020.
  • High levels of distributed and renewable generation are expected, leading to greater complexity and operational costs.


The four energy scenarios for 2050 are:

Two Degrees: meets the 2050 carbon reduction target; Renewable capacity could increase to as much as 110 GW or (60 %) in 2050. Use of gas boilers declines considerably by 2050 and is overtaken by heat pumps, supported by improved heat retention of homes through insulation and other means. This scenario requires policy support, in the form of higher taxes on carbon emitting technologies, as well as clear policy and incentives for reducing demand and increasing the penetration of renewables.
Slow Progression: Slow economic growth and rising gas prices could require a longer term environmental strategy which may not meet the COP21 targets. Government support and incentives are required to keep the focus on decarbonisation, but the uptake of distributed generation and low carbon technologies will be at a reduced pace, due to limited funding.
Consumer Power: In a wealthy world driven by market forces, distributed generation could increase to a total of 93 GW (50 per cent of total installed capacity).
Steady State: Security of supply, affordability of energy and short-term thinking dominate this scenario, leading to the least affluent and least green outcome. This scenario is an extension of today’s situation, with limited incentives for long-term solutions.

Two Degrees shows the highest level of economic growth, offering affordable solutions to a world more conscious of the need for achieving the COP21 targets. Consumer Power shows the highest uptake of energy storage, but the predicted 10.7 GW by 2050 is down from their predictions published last year ( 18.3 GW of storage by 2040 was predicted under this scenario), owing to improved modelling techniques and a focus on installations which are likely to attain a viable economic return.

New technologies, such as microgrids, smart solutions and energy storage, are rapidly transforming the energy sector, providing flexibility and coordination while both increasing and diversifying the participants. New business models are emerging, requiring rapid market and regulatory adaptation to support them and deliver value for consumers.

Four main drivers have been identified for the predicted changes:

1. Electric Vehicles (EVs)

The UK government’s decarbonisation and air quality commitments to ban the sale of new petrol and diesel cars and vans beyond 2040 will boost the electric vehicle market, with numbers of EVs projected to reach one million in the early 2020s and may go up to nine million in 2030. If no schemes are implemented to encourage owners to charge during off-peak hours, then peak electricity demand could rise by 8 GW. The Government has announced the Faraday Challenge, to build a strong UK research, innovation and manufacturing base for automotive batteries. See commentary by Dr. Kathryn Toghill of Lancaster University on why this may not solve the UK energy storage problem.

2. Heating

Changes to heating could be incremental or dramatic. To meet the 2050 carbon reductions, decarbonisation of heat must begin in earnest now, however no one technology solution presents itself. If heat pumps dominate, this will further raise electricity demand peaks. It is expected that gas will play a transitional role, potentially with the incorporation of hydrogen as a way to reduce the carbon content of the gas mix.

3. Cooling

If temperatures continue to rise as predicted, the peak demand from air conditioning in summer could match those for heating in winter by 2050.

4. Gas

Gas currently supplies more than twice as much energy annually as electricity does and is a flexible, reliable and cost-effective energy source which is expected to continue to play a role in UK energy systems. However, traditional sources of gas are declining and the ageing gas infrastructure is in need of maintenance and upgrading to introduce new technologies.

BEIS/OFgem plan for upgrading the energy system

The Government and Ofgem received over 250 responses to their Call for Evidence on a smart, flexible energy system, published in November 2016. This plan is the result of reviewing these responses and actions to be taken fall under three main areas. Some of the actions listed are given below:
1. Removing Policy and Regulatory Barriers

  • The Electricity Act 1989 will be amended to explicitly define storage as a sub-set of generation, based on the definition proposed by the Electricity Storage Network.
  • The “double charging” of network costs will be addressed through Ofgem’s proposed Targeted Charging Review, but with the proviso that storage should not be charged residual charges at transmission and distribution level.
  • A new licence for storage will be introduced by Summer 2018, after an Ofgem consultation on the structure of a modified generation licence.
  • The Government will look into simplifying the planning regime for storage facilities, particularly for larger scale projects.
  • Storage will be exempt from Final Consumption levies.
  • BEIS and Ofgem are clarifying the rules for co-location of storage, to de-risk investments for these facilities.

2. Enabling EVs, Smart Homes and Businesses

  • Ofgem has been working with industry to enable half-hourly settlement, to facilitate smart tariffs. This will initially be elective, but a timetable for mandatory half-hourly settlement will be published soon.
  • Standards for smart appliances and EV chargepoints will be developed.
  • The Government has commissioned work to assess the scale of cyber security risks from smart technology.
  • The Government will work with both the energy and automotive sectors to assess the regulatory, network and tariff implications of increased use of electric vehicles and to support trials of vehicle-to-grid charging.

3. Ensuring effective markets for flexibility

  • Price flexibility (occurring when any party varies its demand or generation in response to the price of energy) will be enabled by ensuring that network tariffs appropriately signal the costs or benefits of using the network at different times and locations. Industry-led modifications and Ofgem’s Targeted Charging Review will progress this.
  • Contracted flexibility (where parties trade and directly contract with one another to procure flexibility) will be facilitated by simplification of requirements and services for those offering flexible solutions and allowing revenue stacking between the Capacity Market and ancillary services. Ofgem is setting out its views to guide industry thinking on code modifications to support independent aggregators’ participation. The System Operator has recently released its Future of Balancing Services to set out how balancing services need to evolve.

Sources and further information:

Hazel Capital commissions Lockleaze, a 15MW battery storage project in Bristol, UK

By Graham Stevenson, Imperial College London


Hazel Capital has successfully commissioned a 15MW battery storage project in Bristol, UK. Hazel Capital  partnered with its affiliate, Noriker Power, to deliver the project. Aura Power developed the project and contracted by Metka-EGN.

As well as this installation, Hazel Capital is also targeting 100MW of exported storage capacity by the end of 2017.


Ben Guest:
“This is another important milestone for Hazel Capital in its overall goals for 2017. This is an exciting first and demonstrates our ability to source and fund such a project while benefiting from Noriker Power’s critical capabilities in project design and control systems.”

Simon Coulson, Director at Aura Power:
“We are delighted that the Lockleaze project has been delivered to market in such a short period of time. This project is of particular importance to us, being located close to our head office in Bristol, and it received strong support from the local community. We look forward to delivering many more storage projects through our UK pipeline.”


This project is unlikely to remain the largest standalone battery for long however. Centrica, also based in the UK, confirmed that construction on its 49MW Roosecote project is currently ongoing.


Further information can be found here, here, and here.

Jaguar Land Rover “to Join Forces” with WMG

By Graham Stevenson, Imperial College London


WMG at the university of Warwick has been awarded £5.7 million by the EPSRC in order to form a partnership with the company. Furthermore, Jaguar will be supplementing this with a matching amount of their own through cash or contributions, as well as further funding through the university. This represents a crucial step in the commercialisation and implementation of electric vehicles, and helps improve their credibility.

WMG’s Professor Barbara Shollock said:

“This prosperity partnership will tackle the emerging challenges for vehicle electrification through a unique collaboration to grow scientific understanding. This integrated approach brings the potential for the UK to lead, both industrially and scientifically, in an area of high growth and relevance in the UK’s industrial strategy. Our shared vision is to create new scientific insights to underpin the Automotive Council’s electrification agenda, from batteries and power electronics to electric motors and electric drive units.”

Further information can be found here and here.

Highview Awarded £1.5 Million for New Hybrid LAES System

By Graham Stevenson, Imperial College London



£1.5 million has been awarded to Highview for implementation of a new hybrid configuration of its liquid air energy storage (LAES) system from Innovate UK.

The intention is to use supercapacitor and flywheel technologies in order to create a rapid-response system that can deliver with times <1s.

The hybrid LAES system will be added to Highview’s 5MW/15MWh Pre-Commercial Demonstration plant at project partner, Viridor’s, Pilsworth landfill gas plant in Bury, Greater Manchester, UK. The project was awarded funding of more than £8 million from the Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) in 2014 and is currently in commissioning due online at the end of the year. LAES is a proven technology after Highview built the world’s first Pilot Plant (350kW/2.5MWh) in 2011 which was connected to the grid at SSE’s biomass plant in Slough until 2014. Whilst LAES can be compared to other large scale technologies such as Pumped Hydro or Compressed Air Energy Storage (CAES), it does not require specific geography and can be located at the point of demand making it a very compelling solution.


Further information can be found here.


Innovate UK is the UK’s innovation agency. It works with people, companies and partner organisations to find and drive the science and technology innovations that will grow the UK economy. For further information visit their website.

Drivers for change: Europe in the race for slashing battery prices

written by Emma Vendola, Imperial College London

Germany is determined to take an active role in the battery manufacturing sector and increase Europe’s share of battery production capacity. Investments for half a billion Euros have been allocated to the Berlin area, where a new battery manufacturing plant will be based.

The need for change towards greener transportation solutions on the political side, and the urge of the German automakers to catch up with Tesla on the electric vehicle market, will be the new driver for a fundamental change not for the automotive sector alone but for the global approach towards energy production and management.

Batteries currently take up a good half of the price of an electric vehicle and a lot of concerns regarding performance and warranties, which inflate the final pack cost figure even more. Among Elon Musk’s objectives in establishing Tesla’s first Gigafactory, there was the necessity to exploit economy of scale by producing more units and streamlining the overall vehicle production line: starting from a lithium and carbon for a single cell and ending with a full vehicle. All done in one place, as it has already started to happen in the Nevada plant for the Model 3 powertrain production.

The German government envisages at least six millions electric cars on the European roads by 2030. At present Europe only produces 2.5% of the global GWh in terms of battery storage, a number that is set to be doubled in the near future. According to Bloomberg New Energy Finance the battery prices will plunge at a fast rate; while BNEF has estimated that the global battery manufacturing capacity will be three times greater by 2021, reaching 278 GWh against the current 103 GWh. Electric vehicles will finally be cheaper than conventional vehicles by 2023.

Daimler, which is the recipient of the government’s investments, and the other European OEM have a long way to go in order to meet the European governments expectations and keep Tesla’s pace. While all European car manufacturers have electric cars designs in the pipeline, the Tesla has set the main competition fields: electric trucks and vertical integration of energy production and consumption. Going beyond Gigafactories’ capability of making a whole car from the cells to completion (which Musk is working to reproduce in 4 or 5 new plants), the Tesla has acquired New York based 12-million-square-foot SolarCity, a plant that could fabricate up to 10,000 solar panels per day. This sets the competition to another level: offering Tesla’s customers integrated solutions from solar panels to cars and household appliances, which will be totally independent form the grid and able to power themselves.

In prevision of the future demand form Volkswagen AG and Renault SA groups, other large scale battery factories are being planned in Sweden, Hungary and Poland. Stockholm alone will be host of a 4 billion Euro investment by the NorthVolt AB startup. Moreover, following Musk’s announcement in late 2016 regarding the search for a location of Gigafactory 2 in Europe; France, Finland, Portugal and Spain are competing to be the host of the project. Gigafactory 2 would bring an investment of 5 billion USD and create up to 10,000 jobs.

It has been estimated that joining forces across the Old Continent will cut the pack prices by 43%, enabling electric vehicles to become a competitive product on the automotive market.

Tesla’s CEO ultimate view goes well beyond relegating battery production to the transportation sector; lowering energy storage prices is key for the transition to renewable energies; according to his estimation automakers have the capability to lead the world towards the independence from fossil fuels. In this picture battery production investments form rival companies are all contributing towards Musk’s 100 Gigafactories dream; in which 100 plants of the scale of Gigafactory 1 (100 GWh of battery cells and 150 GWh of battery packs per year) could accommodate the global energy demand.

The global effort in enhancing battery technology and their manufacturing will set the ground for more consistent investments in the deployment of renewable energy technologies and in the research on smart grids, power distribution and grid balance. Nevertheless, the future picture raises new questions on battery management, cell disposal, second life battery usage and lithium supply.



Aluminium battery may triple energy density

A new, ultrafast rechargeable aluminum battery (URABat) was unveiled at the All Energy event in Glasgow, UK.  Research led by Taiwan’s Industrial Technology Research Institute (ITRI) has led to the development of rapid charge, long-life batteries made from low-cost and abundant aluminium.

Aluminium batteries are expected to share the performance characteristics of their Li-ion counterparts but, by using aluminium, the batteries could be cheaper and not constrained by limited resources. By contrast, lithium is a relatively rare metal, requiring expensive mining operations.

Aluminium battery technology may even outperform lithium ion, for example they can withstand 10,000 charge and discharge cycles without degradation. This brings down the costs even further. Aluminium batteries also have high power density, can charge rapidly and are considered to be safer than Li-ion. The flexibility of aluminium provides more freedom in the physical structure of the battery.

The battery uses aluminium electrodes and an aluminium salt electrolyte gel. A graphite membrane, developed by Stanford University, forms part of the design. This design won the silver medal at the prestigious 2017 Edison Award and is being trialled in an electric scooter.

ITRI researcher, Dr Chien-Chih Chiang,  said, “Currently energy densities are around 40 kWh/kg for this aluminium ion battery technology; we expect to boost that to 60-80 kWh/kg before launching the system on a commercial basis.”


Read more here.

Li metal anode that suppresses dendrite formation

US Scientists at Rice University have used a seamless graphene-carbon nanotube (GCNT) electrode to create a rechargeable lithium metal battery with three times the capacity of commercial lithium-ion batteries. It stores lithium metal reversibly and with complete suppression of dendrite formation. Dendrites are lithium deposits that grow into the battery’s electrolyte and can pose a risk of failure, fire or even explosion, if they form a short circuit between the anode and cathode.

In a paper published in the journal ACS Nano, the team led by Dr. James Tour reports that a full battery based on GCNT-Li/sulfurised carbon (SC) exhibits high energy density, high capacity, good cycle stability and is free of Li polysulfides and dendrites that would cause severe capacity fade.

The anode of the Rice battery is a unique hybrid of graphene and carbon nanotubes, with a low density of nanotubes forming a carpet-like surface. This surface provides abundant area for lithium to inhabit and lithium can coat all the way down to the substrate. It can accommodate large amounts of metal homogeneously distributed as a thin coating over CNT bundles. The structure suppresses dendrite formation during reversible cycles of plating and stripping the lithium coating.

Post-Li-ion batteries, such as Li-S and Li-air batteries, require high gravimetric capacity anodes and cathodes. Ideally, during the charging of a battery, the maximum gravimetric capacity would be achieved if Li is deposited on the anode directly as pure Li metal rather than stored in intercalation compounds such as graphite as in Li-ion batteries (LIBs). The theoretical capacity based on lithiated graphite LiC6 is ~ 339 mAh g-1 while pure Li metal can theoretically deliver 3860 mAh g-1 assuming 100% of Li usage in the discharge operation.

This enormous capacity compared to commercial Li-ion anodes explain the revisiting of Li metal after more than 30 years of the first attempts to incorporate this low density metal in high energy density batteries. However, Li metal problematically forms dendrites and related unstable structures during battery operation. This results in low coulombic efficiency (CE) and cycle life and poses serious safety concerns as the dendrites can cause short circuits.

—Raji et al.

Read Rice University press release here
Read ACS Nano paper here (may require subscription)