Last week’s poll: energy storage in the UK

In last week’s poll we asked about your preferred energy storage technologies, a question predicated on a growing renewables landscape that will need storage to cope with intermittency.

In the UK alone, the need for storage is becoming more acute, given that the cost of renewables is falling and large offshore wind farms and solar facilities are under construction.

The eventual solution is likely to involve a mixture of technologies, but some will form a major part of the storage infrastructure while others will be less important, which is why we asked you to pick the one you think will take the lead.

Of the 515 respondents, 39 per cent opted for pumped hydroelectric, which is also the subject of The Engineer’s latest cover feature.

This was followed by just under a quarter of respondents (23 per cent) who opted for hydrogen (using excess electricity to decompose water, storing hydrogen gas), and 19 per cent who chose electrochemical (defined as batteries of all types, from lithium-ion and other solid-state technologies to flow batteries).

Just eight per cent went for thermal (including cold types, with liquefaction of air and storage of the cryogenic gases; and hot, involving melting salts and storing them in that form), and the remaining 11 per cent settled on None of the above.

Energy is a subject that garners a good deal of opinion, and last week’s poll did not disappoint with 30 readers contributing to the debate so far.

SteamyTea said: “I voted for thermal. We already have it in most homes in the form of a DHW cylinder. The technology is cheap, reliable and effective. It does suffer from some limitations i.e. standing losses and is low entropy compared to electricity.”

Nick Woodward added: “Hydrogen is the answer, it’s easy to be negative to new technology, but if you actually look into it Hydrogen can be produced locally, no need to transport it around the country, the Japanese are doing it already. Hydrogen can explode, so can petrol natural gas and flour if you don’t treat it right. Please look up ITM power.”

In the electrochemical camp, Tom Foreman said: “I picked Electrochemical for storing electricity, but would suggest that Hydrogen would be better suited for replacing Natural gas to heat and cook in people’s homes.”

Speaking up for hydro, Sebastian Broady said: “Investing in hydro is essential – this is a bomb proof way of storing lots of energy. It just takes political will and backbone. We wouldn’t need lots of hydro dams either. Flow cells also seems to be a very promising technology. Unfortunately, our political leaders are not up to task.”

What do you think? Let us know using Comments below.