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LiquidAirMediaCoverage2012134June2013TheConversationWhenthewindblowswemustcaptureitforacalmerdayWithoutenergystoragetechnologywereleavinggoodenergyblowinginthewind.DannyLawsonPAUKbetaAUUKbeta4June20136.46amBSTWhenthewindblowswemustcaptureitforacalmerdayRichardWilliamsPro-ViceChancellorandHeadoftheCollegeofEngineeringandPhysicalSciencesatUniversityofBirminghamDISCLOSURESTATEMENTRichardWilliamsreceivesfundingfromRCUKandCentreforLowCarbonFutures.HeundertakesresearchwithHighviewPowerSystems.ThehandlingofBritainsenergystrategyleavesmuchtobedesiredsubjectasitistoshorttermpoliticsoverlongtermplanning.Wefaceatrilemmathatstemsfromtheopposingtensionofclimatechangeenergysecurityandthecostofelectricitygeneration.ThesearetheelephantsinthechamberduringthisweeksparliamentarydiscussionoftheEnergyBill.Ifwearecommittedtoan80reductionofCO2emissionsby2050thentheUKneedstoinvestinnewstoragetechnologytosupportandenablerenewableenergy.Electricityusageisexpectedtodoubleby2050thescaleofthisgrowthissimplyhuge.InthenextfewyearsmanyoftheUKscoalplantswillcloseandallnuclearplantsareduetocloseinthenextdecade.Someofthismissingenergymaybereplacedbynewnuclearpowerstationsiftheyarebuilt.Butinthemeantimeoptionsincludewindexpensiveandintermittentgreateruseofgasturbineslockingusintohighcarbonelectricityorkeepingdirtycoalplantsopenlongeratanevenhighercarboncost.Atthemomentde-carbonisationreliesheavilyoncarboncaptureandstorageatechnologythatwillbeexpensiveandhasyettobedemonstratedonalargescale.Publictolerationforrisingenergypricesisrunningthinespeciallyincomparisonwithothernations.Thereissignificantenergypoverty.ButtheUKneedstoinvestanestimated161billioninelectrificationinfrastructure.ItdoesnotseemcrediblethattheEnergyBillcanreversethelackofconfidenceprivateenterprisehasshowntoinvestintheUK.Pricehikescouldseeelectricitybillsathirdhigherby2020anddoubleby2030.SowhydowetolerateamarketplacethatthrowsawaylastnightsenergyfromwindfarmsthatshouldhavebeencapturedforusetodayThatwearesubsidisingthecostsofwindfarmsonlytodumptheenergytheygenerateisclearlyabhorrent.Theansweristhatwehavenocosteffectivewaytoprovideforthestorageofenergy.Thisiswhythereisagrowingimperativetoconvincepolicymakersandresearcherstoensurethatlargescaleenergystoragesolutionsareexplored.HereattheUniversityofBirminghamwehavebeenexploringenergystorageusinghydrogenfuelafuelwithitsownfillingstationthatrunsaboattrainandcars.Wearealsocommittedtoopening-upnewmethodsinuseofcleanliquidairenergystoragethatcompressesairintocryogenicallyfrozenliquid.Batterieshavetheirplacebutifprogressistobemadeweneedlowcostlargecapacitystoragesolutionsthatdonotconsumemineralandmetalresourcesandweneedthemfast.Securityofsupplyisanon-goingconcern.Wearedependentongasimportsandarelikelytoremainso.GermanyhasexperiencedtheimpactofitsownenergypoliciesrelyingonnuclearenergyexportedfromFranceandexperiencingdozensofsupplyshortfallsthathaverequiredinterventioninrunningthenationalgridsystem.SecurityofsupplyisthemajorchallengefacingmanyEuropeannations.TheworldhasmovedonsoquicklycanwebenimbleandsecureourenergyneedsWrongtimewrongplaceenergysuchasthecaseofwindfarmsgeneratingenergyatnightwhenfewpeopleneeditisendemicwithrenewablesystems.Wemustfindwaystostorethatenergyanddispatchitwhenneededsothisfieldurgentlyneedsspecialconsiderationsinlegislationregulationandmarketstimulation.ThereisagreatprospectofdeliveringahigherpercentageofrenewablesintheUKbutthecurrenttimelineisnotwellconceived.Abackstopofnuclearandfossilfuelswillbeneededasabufferbeforeproperstoragetechnologycanensurethesupplysecurityrenewableswillrequire.Andtoprovidestrongsignalstothemarkettoinvestinlowcarboninnovationtheremustbeclarityonfuturerevenuesandtransparencyoncosts.Moreworkneedstobedoneonsettingthecarbonfloorpriceandemissionsperformancestandards.Itsclearthatpoliticsneedstocatchupwiththepaceoftheeconomyastheappetiteforclimatechangeandde-carbonisationundergoesashiftacrossEurope.Nimblenesswillberequiredinafast-changingenvironmentthatincludestheappearanceofnewdevelopmentslikefrackingbutthisshouldnotdisplacecleardecisionmaking.Onesensesthatshort-termperspectivesbalancedongaswillwinthedayinplaceofcoherentlongtermambitions.TheEnergyBillneedstobeboldandensurethekeyissuesofdevelopingstoragetechnologypowercapacitysimplifyingbusinessdriversandcarbonintensityareaddressed.SignintoFavouriteCopyright20102013TheConversationTrustUK