Researchers probe electricity grid resilience using advanced batteries

A new research partnership will show how advanced lead batteries can support electricity grid energy storage and plug-in to more renewable and other storage requirements for low carbon energy systems.

The project is being led by Loughborough University and the University of Warwick, supported by the Consortium for Battery Innovation (CBI).

Demand for batteries as a storage technology is steadily growing across the globe in order to support greater levels of grid flexibility, reliability and decarbonization as more renewables are integrated into the grid and in the face of extreme weather events.

By developing more advanced levels of modelling and prediction of lead battery behaviour for utility grid storage, the research is geared towards facilitating higher uptake of lead batteries to support the energy grid.

Professor Dani Strickland, of Loughborough’s School of Mechanical, Electrical and Manufacturing Engineering, said: “The availability of low-cost powerful microprocessors is fuelling an explosion in our capability to monitor, understand and impact battery degradation in real world situations at low cost.

Read the full article here.

Looking ahead: The marine industry in 2030 by Siemens

What will the marine industry look like in 2030?

Siemens asked Monica Schnitger, naval architect and principal analyst at Schnitger Corporation, to answer this question. The result is a series of six briefs, each covering a different angle of shipping, from design and engineering to production and operations.

Learn how the marine industry can meet today’s sustainability challenges, transition from the design spiral to a V-model, get to Shipyard 4.0, build smarter ships, digitalize the marine workforce and navigate a digital fleet.

Please find the six briefs here.

Will charging electric cars ever be as fast as pumping gas? – National Geografic

electric vehicles at charging stations at an all-electric auto service station in Britain
Electric vehicles charge at a new station in Braintree, U.K., on Tuesday, Dec. 15, 2020. Researchers are closing in on an electric car battery that can recharge in 10 minutes or less. Photograph by Chris Ratcliffe, Bloomberg/Getty Images


Electric vehicles are gaining popularity fast, but some prospective buyers remain hesitant. One big reason is that charging EVs is slow. While drivers today are accustomed to filling their gas tank in less than five minutes, EVs, depending on the size and specifications of the battery, typically take at least 30 minutes to get 80 percent charged at the fastest charging stations out there.

In five to 10 years, though, far faster charging might be possible. Companies are developing new lithium-ion battery materials, as well as new “solid state” batteries, which are more stable at faster charging speeds. They could place recharge rates of 20 minute or less within reach.

Meanwhile, a team of scientists recently designed a lithium battery prototype that, under laboratory conditions, can recharge more than 50 percent of its capacity in just three minutes—and do so thousands of times without significantly degrading. This, the researchers say, could pave a path toward batteries that can recharge fully in as little as 10 minutes.

Read the full article here.


Brexit Implications for UK Decarbonisation Objectives – UKERC


Authors: Caroline Kuzemko1 and Antony Froggatt2 

  1. University of Warwick, 2. Chatham House

The last five years in UK politics have been tumultuous: Brexit and the COVID-19 pandemic have had, and will continue to have, huge impacts on the country’s economy and society as a whole. The Government also introduced new targets and associated legislation on climate change in June 2019, which, if successfully implemented will lead to a net zero carbon economy by 2050.

This policy brief highlights the impact that Brexit could have on the ability for the UK to meet its net zero targets.  Focusing on key areas of climate change, UK Emissions Trading Scheme (UK ETS), trade, energy and interconnectors the paper highlights areas that require urgent attention.

Key recommendations

The Trade & Cooperation Agreement (TCA) provisions on the UK’s climate and energy policy are significantly less binding or specific than the rules that applied when in the EU. While the TCA creates a ‘policy floor’ for the UK, its enforcement internationally is questionable. The UK Government must ensure the rigor and scope of domestic agencies balance this.

Establishment of the UK emissions trading scheme (ETS) has highlighted problems associated with protracted TCA negotiations. The current system is temporary, so the eventual establishment of a link to the EU ETS remains a possibility. In its first auctions in May 2021, prices in the UK‘s Emissions Trading System reached £50 per tonne, but questions remain about the efficacy of this interim system. The Government needs to more clearly defined the scope of the system if it is to support the whole economy ‘net zero’ objective.

It is impossible to unplug the UK from the EU’s energy market. The UK government and the EU have until 30 June 2026 to decide the new terms and conditions of their energy relationship. In the meantime trading has reverted to ‘explicit’ rules with potential implications for electricity pricing, system balancing and interconnection.

Being outside of ENTSO-E and ENTSO-G, the Agency for the Co-operation of Energy Regulators (ACER) and the Council of European Energy Regulators (CEER), is to the detriment of UK energy actors. Relevant organisations and government departments will need to spend considerable time and effort trying to influence future EU choices that affect them now they are outside of the EU.

The UK civil service has had to dedicate much capacity to ‘doing’ Brexit. There may be opportunity costs of doing so at this important time for climate change.
Access the briefing paper in full here

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


Net Zero Conference, 1-3 September 2021, online

The role of energy research in the pathway to net zero

During the 21st United Nations Climate Change Conference of the Parties (COP21) hosted in Paris during 2015, world leaders committed to keeping global temperature level rise well below 2C above pre-industrial levels, whilst pursuing strategies to limit warming to 1.5C. This year COP26 is being hosted by the UK, in partnership with Italy, providing the UK with an opportunity to deliver climate leadership on the global stage, following on from writing targets for net zero emissions into law in 2019.

The Supergen programme commands a large share of the UK Research and Innovation energy programme funding, covering different sectors such as solar, bioenergy, offshore renewables, hydrogen, energy networks and energy storage, and is well positioned to interact with stakeholders to provide comprehensive scientific information to support policymaking in the run up to COP26.

Ahead of COP26, the Supergen Hubs will be convening online at the Supergen Net Zero Conference during 1-3 September, exploring the role of energy research in the pathway to net zero. Over the course of the three days we will hear from the Supergen Hubs who will be showcasing their research, as well as holding cross-cutting panel discussions exploring topics such as equality, diversity and inclusion in energy research, international perspectives on Supergen work, our early career researcher activities, and outlining the policy implications of Supergen research for COP26.

Join us on 1-3 September to explore how our research is delivering net zero and hear our vision for the future of sustainable power.

Registration is free via Eventbrite.

If you have any queries or would like to get involved, please contact Dan Taylor, Supergen COP26 Engagement Manager via


The EPSRC Supergen Programme

The Supergen programme was set up in 2001 to deliver sustained and coordinated research on Sustainable PowER GENeration and supply, focusing on several key research areas, including bioenergy; energy networks; energy storage; fuel cells; hydrogen and other vectors; marine, wave and tidal; solar technology; and wind power.

Supergen ORE Hub

The Supergen ORE Hub is a £9 Million Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) funded project. Led by Prof. Deborah Greaves OBE, Head of School of Engineering, Computing and Mathematics at the University of Plymouth, the Hub is a consortium of Universities researching Offshore Renewable Energy which also includes University of Aberdeen, University of Edinburgh, University of Exeter, University of Hull, University of Manchester, University of Oxford, University of Southampton, University of Strathclyde and University of Warwick.

The Supergen ORE Hub brings together and builds on the work of the former Wind and Marine Supergen Hubs following consultation with the research community. The new hub looks for synergies between wind, wave and tidal technologies as well as building on current research in each area.

Supergen Bioenergy Hub

The Supergen Bioenergy Hub works with academia, industry, government and societal stakeholders to develop sustainable bioenergy systems that support the UK’s transition to an affordable, resilient, low-carbon energy future. The Hub is funded jointly by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) and the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) and is part of the wider Supergen Programme.

Supergen Energy Networks Hub

The Supergen Energy Networks Hub brings together the vibrant and diverse energy networks community to gain a deeper understanding of the interactions and inter-dependencies of energy networks. Led by Hub Director, Professor Phil Taylor from Bristol University, the Hub integrates a wide range of industrial and academic partners with other energy network stakeholders. The Hub’s research is carried out by a consortium of Universities: Newcastle, Bristol, Manchester, Cardiff, Bath and Leeds. The research addresses the challenges of technology, policy, data, markets and risk for energy networks.

Supergen Energy Storage Network+

The Supergen Energy Storage Network+ is an integrated, forward-looking platform that supports, nurtures the expertise of the energy storage community, disseminating it through academia, industry, and policy, at a particularly important time when decisions on future funding and research strategy are still being resolved. The Supergen Network+ has secured £1M in funding from the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council and has a core partnership of 19 investigators from 12 UK institutions, all focused on the wider advancement, exchange and dissemination of energy storage expertise. A further 100 organisations from the UK and abroad have pledged their support for the network. The Supergen Storage Network+ is led by Professor Yulong Ding (University of Birmingham). Dr Antzela Fivga manages the Supergen Network+, leading on project management and day-to-day operations.

Supergen SuperSolar Hub

The Supergen SuperSolar Hub started in May 2012 and has since successfully formed an inclusive solar community that links research carried out by universities and industry. Led by Loughborough University’s Centre for Renewable Energy Systems Technology (CREST) the Hub comprises the Universities of Bath, Cambridge, Imperial College, Liverpool, Oxford, Sheffield and Southampton and the Solar Fuels Network. SuperSolar is funded by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council’s (EPSRC) RCUK energy programme. In 2018, the universities of Swansea and Warwick joined the core members.

H2FC Supergen

The Hydrogen and Fuel Cells (H2FC) Supergen Hub is funded by the Research Councils UK Energy Programme, as part of the government’s Sustainable Power Generation and Supply initiative. It was set up in 2012 to address the key challenges facing the hydrogen and fuel cell sector as it strives to provide cost competitive, low carbon technologies in a more secure UK energy landscape.

Existing and future technologies for retrofitting the UK housing stock – CREDS

This report was prepared by Philip Steadman at the UCL Energy Institute, as part of a project to advise Islington Council on getting their social housing stock to net zero by 2030. For this reason, there is some focus on London. The paper gives an account of existing carbon reduction and energy efficiency technologies, options to retrofit the existing housing stock, and the anticipated technologies expected to come to market over the next 10 years. It does not make specific recommendations, but discusses the pros and cons of available technologies in general terms.

1. Achieving net zero emissions from dwellings

‘Carbon net zero’ means that the total emissions of carbon added to the atmosphere are no greater than those removed. For the housing stock this will be achieved by the combination of two processes of change, the first in the energy supply system, the second in dwellings themselves. Energy supplies need to be decarbonised, by phasing out the direct burning of coal, oil and natural gas; phasing out electricity production from these fuels; and moving to the generation of electricity from wind, solar, nuclear and other low-carbon sources.

This task of decarbonisation energy supplies is moving fast. Wind power has grown from providing 2% of the UK’s electricity supply to 18% over the last ten years. On Easter Monday 2021 – in unusual circumstances – 60% of electricity used in the country was generated from wind and solar, and a further 16% from nuclear. The process is being propelled not just by climate change policy but by rapid continuing falls in the costs of wind turbines, photovoltaic panels and batteries. Meanwhile the gas supply network to buildings will be either phased out, or possibly converted to carrying hydrogen or other ‘green gases’ whose combustion releases no carbon. On present trends however, there is little prospect of the national UK energy supply system being fully decarbonised by 2030.

The future of national energy supplies will create the context for local decisions, for example by local authorities, and will affect the costs and benefits of different options for housing retrofits. Once a major shift is made towards electricity for delivering heat, alongside a transition to electric cars, there may be national or regional problems with the capacity of the electricity grid.

The second part of the route to carbon net zero in houses and flats is to ‘decarbonise heat’, either by converting heating systems to electricity or by moving from natural gas to ‘green gases’. Space heating and water heating are the largest end-uses of energy in housing, and at present these mostly burn gas.  Figure 1 shows greenhouse gas emissions in London by sector in 2017 (London Energy and Greenhouse Gas Inventory 2021). Over a third of total emissions (36%) come from the residential sector; and within dwellings, two-thirds of emissions come from natural gas. Then there are lighting, domestic appliances and other equipment using electricity.

Figure 1: Greenhouse gas emissions in London by sector. Data from LEGGI 2017, diagram redrawn from Carbon Trust 2020.

The decarbonisation of heat can be complemented and supported by reducing the overall energy demand of houses, in three ways. The first is to upgrade the fabric of dwellings by the insulation of roofs and walls, and by moving from single glazing to double or triple glazing, so reducing heat losses. The second is to use more efficient appliances, and control energy use better. The third is to generate energy from renewable sources locally at the dwelling or estate scale, for which the most promising technology in cities is photovoltaic (PV) installations on roofs. These measures in combination can lower the heat demand, and lower the demand for electricity for lighting and equipment.

Read the full article here.

How far off are we from viable long-duration energy storage?

Experts, technology providers and energy system stakeholders discuss how the need for long-duration energy storage can be met, in this panel discussion from the Energy Storage Summit USA hosted earlier this year by Solar Media.

Today, there are many applications that batteries and other energy storage technologies can provide that may require as little as a few minutes of high-power discharge to balance the grid and between one and four hours to help mitigate the peaks in electricity demand that put reliable energy supply under the most strain. As we go to higher shares of renewable energy on the world’s electricity grids, the need to store energy for longer periods of time will also grow.

Read the full article here.

New centre shows UKRI’s commitment to industrial decarbonisation

View of the smoking chimneys of a coal-fired power plant against the backdrop of a dramatic sky with clouds

UKRI is demonstrating its commitment to tackling carbon emissions from industrial clusters with the launch of a £20 million centre for research and innovation.

The Industrial Decarbonisation Research and Innovation Centre (IDRIC) is run by Professor Mercedes Maroto-Valer of Heriot-Watt University, and supported by funding through UKRI’s industrial decarbonisation challenge.

The centre will work in line with the government’s plans for a green industrial revolution, and will be tasked with identifying and researching opportunities to reduce:

  • costs
  • risks
  • timescales
  • emissions.

It will do so across clusters of energy-intensive industries that currently make a significant contribution to UK emissions.

Connect and empower

IDRIC will connect and empower the UK industrial decarbonisation community with over 140 partners, including:

  • industry and business
  • government and regulatory agencies
  • world-leading academics.

They will work together to deliver an impactful innovation hub for industrial decarbonisation.

The centre will build and provide evidence from the activities of the industrial clusters to:

  • help address their challenges
  • shape more informed decisions on future decarbonisation options
  • support wider policy on the UK’s industrial decarbonisation mission as a whole.

It will also analyse any impact or need for broader institutional reforms for the sector that could help decarbonisation plans work more effectively to meet net-zero and economic targets.

Read the full article here.

COP26 Engagement – Supergen Energy Storage Network+

In the lead up to COP26, we will be hosting and being involved in a range of engagement and communication activities on the role of Energy Storage technologies in achieving a net-zero energy system.

Energy Storage towards a Net-Zero Future , 24 June 2021

An interactive workshop organised by ECRs for ECRs to share their research and identify storage related key messages for COP26. Webinar topics focus on the role of energy storage research and innovation in achieving a net-zero future.

Supergen Director Prof. Yulong Ding and the Climate change: science and solutions briefings series of the Royal Society

Ahead of the UN Climate Summit COP26 in Glasgow this year, the Royal Society sought wide-ranging input from the global scientific community to produce the Climate change: science and solutions briefings. These briefings highlight the significant potential that research, development and deployment in 12 critical areas hold for climate action. Prof. Yulong Ding was leading briefing 3 “Lowcarbon heating and cooling: what science and technology can do to tackle the world’s largest source of carbon emissions”. 

Supergen Energy Storage Network+ presence at the Climate Exp0, 17-21 May 2021

Climate Exp0 –the first conference organised by the COP26 Universities Network and the Italian University Network for Sustainable Development (RUS), working together to raise ambition for tangible outcomes from the 2021 UN Climate Change Conference (COP26). Our co-investigator Peter Bruce is charing the seccion on “Climate risk” on the 17th May at 9.30-10.30am. This session will explore climate risk in more detail including tipping points and systemic risk.

Glad to see our researcher Binjian Nie taking part in the ClimateExp0 conference, exploring solutions for a green recovery. “Experimental performance of a phase change material-based road/rail container for cold chain transportation“.

COP26 Universities Network: A growing group of over 55 UK-based universities and research centres working together to raise ambition for tangible outcomes from the UN COP26 Climate Change Conference [Glasgow, Nov 2021]. The Network will create lasting partnerships and legacies that reach beyond this single event.

Hydrogen Storage in Caverns, 12 April 2021

There is broad consensus that hydrogen will have a major role to play in the collective move towards Net Zero. One major element of that role is very likely to be the provision of flexibility over very long timescales – possibly in the order of a month or upwards. Achieving high penetrations of renewables will demand the re-introduction of flexibility that was previously provided at almost zero cost from fossil-fuelled generation. Some loads already use hydrogen directly. Others such as heavy goods transportation and steel production may possibly become major hydrogen consumers in the future. High capacity storage enables the supply to feed-in and loads to draw-out at greatly different times. Hydrogen storage may also enable the backup generation of electricity at times when renewable resources are low.

Carnot Batteries – “Academia meets Industry”, 28 & 29 January 2021

The 2050 net-zero carbon economy requires a much higher penetration of renewable sources (RES) into our energy system. This poses a significant challenge in shifting the provision of base-load energy generation to intermittent energy generation and thus energy network stability. This calls for highly flexible, low-cost and energy-and-resource-efficient energy storage technologies to balance the energy supply and demand mismatch. Among the storage technology options, the emerging Carnot Battery technology provides a potentially low-cost and site-independent solution for electricity storage at medium to large scale.

Supergen Decarbonising Maritime Workshop, 25 January 2021

On 25 January we came together with the Supergen Bioenergy and Offshore Renewable Energy Hubs to hold a Maritime Decarbonising Workshop, to explore the challenges and opportunities of ‘decarbonising’ maritime, ahead of the upcoming Clean Maritime Demonstration Competition. We were joined by the Department for Transport (DfT) and Maritime UK, as we worked together on how academia can support the maritime sector to achieve its decarbonisation targets.

About COP26

The UK will be hosting the 26th UN Climate Change Conference of the Parties (COP26) in Glasgow on 1 – 12 November 2021. The summit aims to bring parties together to accelerate action towards the goals of the Paris Agreement and the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change. The UK is committed to working with all countries and joining forces with civil society, companies and people on the frontline of climate change to inspire climate action ahead of COP26. More about COP26 here.

The Role of Critical Minerals in Clean Energy Transitions by IEA

Minerals are essential components in many of today’s rapidly growing clean energy technologies – from wind turbines and electricity networks to electric vehicles. Demand for these minerals will grow quickly as clean energy transitions gather pace. This new World Energy Outlook Special Report by the International Energy Agency (IEA) provides the most comprehensive analysis to date of the complex links between these minerals and the prospects for a secure, rapid transformation of the energy sector.

Alongside a wealth of detail on mineral demand prospects under different technology and policy assumptions, it examines whether today’s mineral investments can meet the needs of a swiftly changing energy sector. It considers the task ahead to promote responsible and sustainable development of mineral resources, and offers vital insights for policy makers, including six key IEA recommendations for a new, comprehensive approach to mineral security.

You can download the full report here.