Thanks in part to the pandemic-induced economic slowdown and the collapse of coal and triumph of wind power over the last decade, a new analysis suggests the UK is halfway to meeting its net zero greenhouse gas emissions target. The ultimate goal of a fully renewable grid will depend on technology that can store clean electricity from wind farms for hours and days.
Since I began writing about energy storage in 2013, falling costs have prompted a surge in batteries being installed around the world. Just as silos store excess grain on farms for when it’s needed during lean periods, grid batteries store additional energy so that it can be used to keep the lights on when supply fails to match demand.
Historically, fossil fuels have provided that buffer in the energy system. Coal, oil and gas can be burned whenever needed to keep people driving, heating homes and turning on appliances. But tackling climate change will mean shifting to renewable energy generation – which can be patchy when the sun isn’t shining and the wind isn’t blowing – and swapping gas boilers and combustion engines for alternatives powered by clean electricity.
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