It doesn’t always rain when you need water, so we have reservoirs – but we don’t have the same system for electricity,” says Jill Cainey, director of the UK’s Electricity Storage Network. But that may change in 2016, with industry figures predicting a breakthrough year for a technology not only seen as vital to the large-scale rollout of renewable energy, but also offering the prospect of lowering customers’ energy bills. Big batteries, whose costs are plunging, are leading the way. But a host of other technologies, from existing schemes like splitting water to create hydrogen, compressing air in underground caverns, flywheels and heated gravel pits, to longer term bets like supercapacitors and superconducting magnets, are also jostling for position. In the UK, the first plant to store electricity by squashing air into a liquid is due to open in March, while the first steps have been taken towards a virtual power station comprised of a network of home batteries.
Guardian 4th Feb 2016 read more »