Attention is turning to storage technologies amid fears that lack of grid capacity could stop the UK’s clean energy revolution in its tracks

Electricity used to flow just one way: from big power stations to industrial and household consumers. But the inexorable rise of renewables is changing how energy is generated and managed. The key to being able to maximise the potential of renewable energy is a smart and flexible grid – and storage is crucial to achieving this.

Cornwall, one of the fastest growing solar markets in the UK, is typical of many places in the world where renewables are booming. So much electricity is being generated in this southwest corner of the UK that no new solar projects are being connected to the grid. One solution is to upgrade it to cope with all the new capacity, but that would be expensive and take years.

Another is to link homes and businesses in a smart network to create a virtual power plant, which can sell to the grid in times of need and store energy when it’s not required. Centrica, Western Power and the National Grid have embarked on a three-year project to see whether this would be a cheaper solution. Centrica is putting battery storage and micro combined heat and power systems into more than 100 homes and businesses. An automated...

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