As part of our Countdown to COP campaign, Utility Week presents a showcase of some of the most promising energy storage technologies. Tom Grimwood explores the potential – and the limitations – of solutions ranging from flow batteries to liquid air energy storage and the use of gravity, among others.

By Tom Grimwood

Latest

SP Energy Networks has successfully trialled the “world’s first” real-time fault level measurement system on a section of its network. The distribution network operator said the device developed by Outram Research achieved an error margin of less than 1 per cent at 11kV, “far outperforming” the 5 per cent margin it was originally targeting.
News
Kraken Technologies, the customer service platform built by Octopus Energy, is currently running 17 million accounts. But by 2027, Kraken hopes to have 100 million, by offering partner energy companies cost savings, added value and its 'special sauce'. Lara Beers, vice president for global sales, explains.
Analysis
The water sector must find ways to cut the emissions from its most energy intensive activity - wastewater treatment. Industry experts discussed how this could be done and what challenges stand in the way of creating a circular economy to benefit from what has previously been considered waste.
Analysis

Editor's picks

Collaborative innovation within the water sector is currently high on the agenda, thanks to the Ofwat Innovation Fund. A team from the University of Sheffield has distilled its work on how best to build partnering relationships that lead to viable innovations into a new downloadable guide for the sector.
Opinion
In the second of three articles, BPF Pipes Group (a division of the British Plastics Federation) explores the policy drivers behind the circular economy, and how recycling and re-use can bring us into better alignment with the natural world.
Comment
Adding biodiversity to sites is already a goal for most utilities, but soon they will be working to a tough new target of 10% biodiversity net gains under the Environment Bill. Katie Dawson, Costain’s lead on Geographical Information Systems for the environment, explains what’s involved.
Interviews
How is the drive for net zero transforming expectations of customer service operations? Utility Week asked energy and water leaders to tell us their experiences.
Analysis
From shifting large numbers of staff to home working to accelerating the use of digital communication channels, the utilities sector has been widely praised for its response to the issues thrown up by the Covid-19 pandemic. During Utility Week Live Summit, a number of industry experts gathered to discuss what lessons the sector can take from the pandemic to transform customer service. Having robust and varied communications was among the key topics explored.
Analysis
From urging companies to fire up consumers about energy, to more efforts to open up data, strong messages emerged in the virtual think-tank convened by Utility Week with Microsoft and Accenture on accelerating the transition to net zero. Denise Chevin chaired.
Market insight
DNOs regularly publish Distribution Future Energy Scenarios, but these often overlook the developing complexity on the low voltage networks. As UW Innovate reports, WPD has now devised a new methodology, called EPIC, to capture data from local authorities and use it for more sensitive and localised analysis.
Analysis
Building a 'smart network' where data can accelerate decarbonisation and cut operating costs is an agenda-setting priority for every distribution and transmission company. Already, network companies have chalked up their first trials and even moved into 'Business As Usual' territory. But as a recent debate and workshop discussion at the Utility Week Live Summit showed, there is still a long way to go.
Analysis
Graham Campbell, chair of Energy Network Association’s Data and Digitalisation Steering Group and head of whole system and commercial at SP Energy Networks, offers an overview of the Steering Group and its priorities for the year ahead.
Opinion
Digital Catapult has launched a cross-sector IoT Discovery programme, offering organisations 1-2-1 support on investing in IoT, with Northern Gas Networks participating in the first cohort. Rukmini Prasad, product and partnerships manager for IoT at the Digital Catapult, answers UW Innovate’s questions.
Interviews
Seagrass, which was once common around the UK's coast, is believed to be as effective as woodland at sequestering carbon but until now no framework existed to measure its efficacy. Affinity Water was awarded funding from Ofwat's Innovation in Water Challenge fund to restore seagrass in its region, create a seed nursery and develop the framework for carbon credits. Utility Week talks to Aaron Burton, Affinity's head of environmental strategy.
Analysis
A tool that is drawn to leaks within pipes has won the Future Water Association 2020 Water Dragons prize. Qinov8's Aquapea moves through pipes and forms a seal over holes to prevent leaks
News
More than 200 projects to install electric vehicle charging points across the UK have been approved as part of a £300 million green recovery scheme, of which just over half represents new funding for RIIO-ED1.
News
A taskforce has been launched to accelerate the digitalisation of the energy system. The Energy Digitalisation Taskforce is the successor to the Energy Data Taskforce and will once again be chaired by Laura Sandys.
News
Utility Week gauges industry views on the approval of mandatory half hourly settlement (MHHS), including whether the timeline is realistic and if there is a danger the process could actually slow down early adopters of smart tariffs. Including contributions from Octopus' Rachel Fletcher, Marzia Zafar of Kaluza and Mark Bygraves at Elexon.
News
Greater flexibility could cut energy system costs by £16.7 billion per year by 2050, according to new research from the Carbon Trust and Imperial College London. The report said flexibility should be embedded into all sectors of the energy system – power, heat and transport – to reduce the impact and cost of their decarbonisation.
News
An official for Cambridge City Council has raised concerns over a “headlong rush” towards air-source heat pumps, saying there are “lots of problems” with the technology, particularly within urban areas. Environmental quality and growth manager Jo Dicks made the comments during a discussion of retrofitting as part of Utility Week’s Future of Heat conference.
News
The energy sector is seeing a rapid evolution of customer journeys and channels, with consumer expectations growing all the time. But are the energy market and the systems changing fast enough to meet these needs? This new white paper from Coeus Consulting considers some of the key challenges facing technology leaders across the energy sector and their wider significance.
Downloads
Local authorities are facing the dual pressures of boosting investment and decreasing emissions. However, these goals are not mutually exclusive. As part of our Countdown to COP series, SSE’s Stephen Stead looks at how forward-thinking councils are seeking to use the post-Covid economic recovery to modernise their energy infrastructure.
Opinion
Energy retailer Bulb has outlined plans to offer low-income or vulnerable customers a free smart thermostat. The company will trial the free fittings of Google Nest Thermostat E devices in 2,000 West Midlands homes and, if successful, will expand it to 30,000 properties across the UK.
News
StormHarvester’s AI-backed analysis tools allow water companies to accurately forecast the impact of heavy rainfall events. The automated water management software platform won backing from Wessex Water and has now completed a trial in the Bath area – picking up a Water Industry Award too, as managing director Brian Moloney explains.
Analysis
Ofwat has established its £200 million Innovation Fund in a 'disruptive' attempt to change mindsets and boost water companies’ capacity to collaborate and co-operate to solve problems. UW Innovate looks at the aspirations behind the Fund, and meets the teams behind two projects in the first wave to secure funding.
Analysis
The winners of the this year’s Water Industry Awards have now been unveiled, recognising the best and brightest projects and people the industry has to offer.
News
The sky is the limit for getting the water sector to think innovatively about how to tackle the environmental and societal challenges faced today. Ofwat's John Russell writes about the success of the innovation fund so far and what is next.
Opinion
British Water’s chief executive talks about the collective action needed for water to have a seat at the table for the UN’s climate conference in Glasgow.
Opinion
The winners of the this year’s Water Industry Awards have now been unveiled, recognising the best and brightest projects and people the industry has to offer.
News
A site that has treated water for communities in Lancaster since 1927 is being upgraded with a £23 million investment by United Utilities to ensure compliance and resilience for the 21st century
News
Seagrass, which was once common around the UK's coast, is believed to be as effective as woodland at sequestering carbon but until now no framework existed to measure its efficacy. Affinity Water was awarded funding from Ofwat's Innovation in Water Challenge fund to restore seagrass in its region, create a seed nursery and develop the framework for carbon credits. Utility Week talks to Aaron Burton, Affinity's head of environmental strategy.
Analysis
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