What might energy systems look like in a net zero world?

Fishbowl conversation: What might energy systems look like in a net zero world?

Ramshorn Theatre, Glasgow 4 November, 1.30-3pm

Apply to be part of a live event in Glasgow at COP26!

In the afternoon of the 4th of November (Energy Day) during COP26, the UK Research and Innovation Supergen programme will be holding a public engagement event at the Ramshorn Theatre, central Glasgow. The ‘fishbowl’ conversation will see members of the public from different backgrounds discuss and debate their visions for a net zero energy future, with academic support from Supergen researchers, and the event will be live-streamed to those who cannot make it in-person (tickets available here: https://bit.ly/3a4AwMj).

We are seeking participants who will be in Glasgow during the 4th of November and are interested in taking part in the discussion at the Ramshorn Theatre, between 13:00-14:30 GMT. In order to ensure we obtain a diverse selection of the public for debate, we will be reviewing and selecting from those who register an interest via this form: https://forms.gle/hXTDQYa2dYuAeFfL7

The debate will be structured around the themes below:

Chapter 1: How do we generate our energy in a net zero world?

Chapter 2: How do we deliver that net zero energy to the public?

Chapter 3: How do we utilise that net zero energy?

Chapter 4: What steps should the UK be taking to make our energy system net zero by 2050?

Prior to the debate, participants will receive a briefing with related information on energy systems from Supergen.

Please note that we will not be funding travel or accommodation costs, therefore please only register interest if you are already planning to be in Glasgow during the 4th of November or are located nearby.

If you have any queries or would like to know more before applying, please email Dan Taylor, COP26 Engagement Manager (d.taylor2@aston.ac.uk).

Supergen Cross Hub Report: Impact of COVID-19 on Equality, Diversity & Inclusion and Research

As part of our ED&I initiatives, we recently collaborated with the Supergen Energy NetworksSolar Network PlusOffshore Renewable Energy Hub, and Bioenergy Hub to develop a survey as to better understand the impact of COVID-19 on our networks and stakeholders work to further support our ED&I activities.

Comments and responses to the survey will be read and incorporated into our future action plan.

A copy of the report is available to view here.

Supergen programme delivers net zero conference exploring the role of energy research ahead of COP26

The Supergen Net Zero Conference took place on the 1-3 September 2021. Researchers and stakeholders from the six Supergen Hubs/Networks (covering storage, bioenergy, solar, offshore renewables, hydrogen and fuel cells, and energy networks) came together ahead of the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP26) taking place in Glasgow later this year, with a showcase designed to connect research across the Supergen programme, as well as, show what the next steps should be for UK research and innovation to meet our global commitments.

The full programme of the net zero conference is available below.


The recordings of all the conference sessions are available on our YouTube channel here.

The role, value and needs of Energy Storage for Net-Zero by 2050

Dr Haris Patsios from Newcastle University, a co-director of the Supergen Network+, chaired “The role, value and needs of Energy Storage for Net-Zero by 2050” session. Haris also introduced the Supergen Network+’s main objectives and activities and its role in supporting early career researchers, academic/industry engagement, and UK research and innovation. Over 100 attendees joined the session.

Our first speaker was Prof. Andrew Cruden from University of Southampton and Supergen Network+ Co-I. He explained how energy storage can support the transition of transport to net-zero. Key messages that he conveyed include: technology race remains in battery materials; government support and subsidy delivers changes; recycle and re-use of end of life batteries are crucial; vehicle to grid (V2G) is key to enable linkage between transport energy storage and grid sectors. Prof. Zhibin Yu from the University of Glasgow discussed the importance of thermal storage in heating and cooling decarbonisation. He highlighted the challenges in meeting the winter peak for heating and the important role of both inter-seasonal and short term thermal energy storage”. Prof. Jihong Wang from University of Warwick and Deputy Director of the Supergen Network+ focused on the need for large scale energy storage in the power sector. She summarised the needs and market proposition for large scale long duration energy storage.

A panel discussion followed including the speakers and Dr. Bart de Leeuw, Head of Smart Energy Innovation from BEIS, who gave a policy perspective, and Dr Yongliang Li, University of Birmingham, who discussed heating and cooling aspects.

Introduction to Supergen Network+, Haris Patsios, Newcastle University

The role, value and needs of Energy Storage to Net-Zero 2050 – Transport, Andrew Cruden, University of Southampton

The Role of Thermal Storage in the Future Net-Zero Heating and Cooling System, Zhubin Yu, University of Glasgow

Electrical Energy Storage Need for Net-Zero 2050, Jihong Wang, University of Warwick

Government should have moved earlier to low-carbon, say industry experts by The Guardian

Energy crisis could have been lessened if more had been done to shift UK market towards renewables

A solar power array.
Solar power has plummeted in cost in recent years, despite a lack of support from the government, and is forecast to be the cheapest form of power within a few years. Photograph: Steve Parsons/PA
Renewable energy and low-carbon heating could do much more to alleviate the gas supply problems of the future – and could have done much to reduce the impact of this winter’s soaring gas prices, if the government had done more to shift the UK’s energy market sooner, industry experts have said.


The gas supply crunch has prompted a flurry of government meetings with industry, and reassurances in parliament on Monday from the business secretary, Kwasi Kwarteng, that “there is no question of the lights going out” and that the UK is “highly resilient”.

But the supply issue demonstrates that fossil fuels are inherently subject to wild price fluctuations, which happen at least once a decade, according to Roger Fouquet, of the London School of Economics. “Price volatility is an inevitable part of the fossil fuel energy system,” he said. “Renewables do not suffer from these market-related problems.”

Read the full article here.


Wins for solar-plus-storage in tender ‘prove energy storage is integral to greener Germany’

German storage system maker Tesvolt said international activities, including integrating batteries with this Australian gold mine’s solar array, now accounts for about 40% of its business, but Germany remains important, too. Image: Tesvolt.

Success for project proposals combining solar PV with battery storage in Germany’s latest multiple technology tenders for renewable energy are proof of the importance of energy storage, the managing director of German energy storage association BVES has said.

The German Federal Network Agency ( Bundesneztagentur ) published the results of its third round of ‘Innovation Tenders’ on 18 August. Bidders had to put forward projects that combine at least two different eligible technology types per site that will share a grid connection point. Winners get a “fixed market premium” paid for their energy as well as market revenues they can earn.

A total of 250MW was auctioned for. The Bundesneztagentur said however that the auction was slightly undersubscribed, with 23 bids that didn’t quite add up to the 250MW cap. Due to this undersubscription, the regulator applied a statutory volume control mechanism, which meant bids were awarded until 80% of bid volumes of accepted bids was reached or exceeded. Six bids had been disqualified due to errors made in their bid proposals.

Read the full article here.

Ørsted seeks local views on plans for new energy storage project

Ørsted, a world leading renewable energy developer, is inviting local residents to give feedback on plans to develop a new energy storage project near Swardeston, in Norfork. The company is launching a local consultation on September 6th to gather knowledge and views on the proposed project, before plans are submitted to South Norfolk District Council.

The way the UK produces and uses electricity is changing at an increasingly accelerated rate, and so traditional methods used to operate our electricity networks also need to change. Energy balancing equipment, such as energy storage, is therefore becoming more widespread as a way of effectively and cost efficiently balancing the supply and demand of electricity within the electrical transmission network.

The proposed Ørsted energy storage project would be a stand-alone facility, providing valuable services to the whole energy system and playing an integral role in supporting the UK’s transition to NetZero.  The storage technology is likely to be Lithium-Ion batteries which would import, store, export or convert energy to improve the stability and reliability of the electricity grid.

No new land would be used for the project as it will be co-located with already planned permitted infrastructure, off the B1113, at Swardeston. Housed in either modular buildings or containers designed to minimise noise and maximise safety, all of the proposed technology is tried and tested, with approximately 1000 MW in operation and a range of suppliers providing grid services in the UK. Once at the end of its life, all infrastructure would be removed and the batteries recycled.

Ørsted is keen to hear views from the local community and a “virtual platform” will be available for the community to learn about the proposed development and provide opportunity to seek further information, raise queries and submit feedback.

Read the full article here.

National Grid and SSE to use electricity transformers to heat homes by The Guardian

Exclusive by The Guardian: plan is to harness ‘waste heat’ and cut carbon emissions for households connected to district networks

Part of transformer substation
if the trial succeeds, about 1,300 National Grid substations could soon act as neighbourhood ‘boilers’ by piping water heated by the substations into nearby heating networks. Photograph: Tobias Schwarz/Reuters

Thousands of homes could soon be warmed by the heat from giant electricity grid transformers for the first time as part of new plans to harness “waste heat” and cut carbon emissions from home heating.

Trials are due to begin on how to capture the heat generated by transmission network transformers, owned by National Grid, to provide home heating for households connected to district heating networks operated by SSE.

Currently, hot air is vented from the giant substations to help cool the transformers that help to control the electricity running through National Grid’s high-voltage transmission lines.

However, if the trial succeeds, about 1,300 National Grid substations could soon act as neighbourhood “boilers”, piping water heated by the substations into nearby heating networks, and on into the thousands of homes that use SSE’s services.

Read the full article here.

UK government launches plan for a world-leading hydrogen economy

First-ever vision to kick start world-leading hydrogen economy set to support over 9,000 UK jobs and unlock £4 billion investment by 2030.

  • First-ever vision to kick start world-leading hydrogen economy set to support over 9,000 UK jobs and unlock £4 billion investment by 2030;
  • Consultation also launched to look at ways to overcome cost gap between low carbon hydrogen and fossil fuels;
  • £105 million in UK government funding provided to support polluting industries to significantly slash their emissions

The UK’s first-ever Hydrogen Strategy drives forward the commitments laid out in the Prime Minister’s ambitious 10 Point Plan for a green industrial revolution. Read the full announcement here.

Creating next generation batteries for electric vehicles

Man Holding Power Charging Cable For Electric Car In Outdoor Car Park. And he’s going to connect the car to the charging station in the parking lot near the shopping center

Seventeen projects making electric vehicle (EV) batteries safer, more powerful, cheaper, faster-charging and easier to recycle have been announced.

£10 million of Faraday Battery Challenge funding is being used to help build a better British battery industry for the future of zero-emission travel.

This latest round of Faraday Battery Challenge funding will be shared across 17 projects being undertaken by businesses and research institutions across the country.

The projects include a consortium led by LiNa Energy that will develop a new sodium nickel chloride battery system, leading to improved cell performance, and manufacturing optimised for scale-up, decarbonisation and recycling. Another, led by Anaphite Ltd, aims to develop faster charging batteries by incorporating graphene into the battery cathode.

Investment and industrialisation

This funding comes shortly after the official opening of UK Battery Industrialisation Centre (UKBIC) on 15 July by the Prime Minister. Based in Coventry and part-funded through the Faraday Battery Challenge, UKBIC is a is battery manufacturing development facility, which provides a link between battery technology and mass production.

Read the full article here.

Thermal storage project in Finland could begin construction next year

Schematic of the VECTES project. Image: Vantaa Energy.

A seasonal heat storage plant which will have a capacity of about 90GWh looks set to begin construction next year in Vantaa, Finland, with water stored in underground caverns heated to 140°C using renewable energy and waste heat.

City energy company Vantaa Energy said at the beginning of this month that it has selected engineering, design and advisory group AFRY and Finnish urban development and construction company YIT as project partners. Project development begins this summer and construction in autumn next year, with the massive system expected to be online during 2026.

The project, called Vantaa Energy Cavern Thermal Energy Storage (VECTES), will involve caverns around 60 metres underground in bedrock. According to project overview documents produced by Vantaa, situating the water storage that far down means the ground water’s natural pressure will prevent it from evaporating, even at temperatures above its boiling point.

Read the full article here.