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New energy storage technology places the UK at the forefront of an emerging global market

8 January 2019

Professor Tony Roskilly Director of the Swan Centre for Energy Research

Pumped Heat Energy Storage or Pumped Thermal Energy Storage is cheap and is compatible with the technical and scale-up challenges of grid-scale energy storage.

Given the thermal power cycle’s enormous potential, there has been a tremendous amount of research and commercial interest in PHES technology over the last ten years, however until now nobody has managed to get as far as to demonstrate a real-world working system.

What is exciting is that the UK is the first to do it and as such, is now leading the world in what looks like a highly disruptive and cost-effective technology which can balance renewable energy supply and demand.

Dr Andrew Smallbone Co-Director of the National Facility for Pumped Heat Energy Storage

Our initial tests have been very promising, we can very quickly change our system control from charge to discharge in a few milliseconds. The analysis of system performance indicated that the current system operates with an efficiency which yields a round trip efficiency of 60-65%.

This figure is very exciting as it’s consistent with the original target design specification and as our recent work on Levelised Cost of Electricity Storage shows is already sufficiently high enough to put the technology in the mix for being the lowest cost and most flexible grid-scale energy storage technology. Additionally, these tests also indicated there is significant opportunity for further improvements through design enhancements and operational optimisation. This will now continue over the next few months.

Mark Illingworth

Energy storage is viewed by many systems modellers as a core component of an energy system that can transition to low carbon cost-effectively. The challenge is to make the technology economically attractive to investors to back its development. This system, now operational makes that more realistic and positions the UK as a potential global leader in this field of technology.

Mark Illingworth Director, Programme Delivery