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A Better Way to Store Renewable Energy

While the political emphasis is weighing more and more heavily toward achieving net zero and an increasing hunger to end the country’s reliance on fossil fuels and imported energy, it is now imperative that we improve battery energy storage systems. The UK may now be a world leader in how much energy is generated by wind power from turbines, formerly on land but now increasingly at sea; the most pressing problem is harnessing that energy for future use.

Equally, the current cost of living crisis and the untenable increase in household energy bills has put the fire back into the debate. Alongside this, the impact of the Ukrainian war has highlighted how unhealthy our reliance is on foreign fuel imports.

Meeting the Challenge of Battery Energy Storage Systems

Currently, fossil fuels take up the slack when demand outstrips the renewable supply. Even in sunny California, which is ranked as the highest solar power generating state in the USA, solar power accounts for about 25 per cent of the energy and is working towards a 50 per cent ratio in the next few years. Any shortfall in energy consumption is picked up by fossil fuels.

It is evident that the technology behind capturing green and renewable energy is well established. Developing battery storage systems that are fit for purpose continues to be a challenge. Being able to store electricity for when it is needed is a significant challenge for energy companies trying to deliver a consistent supply of energy.

Back here in the UK, the British government has already relaxed planning consent for large-scale battery storage facilities both in Wales and in England. This will massively increase the storage capacities of these sites. The UK government believes that this will dramatically enhance the ability to store energy created by wind and solar farms. As it stands, the proposed increase in cell storage will increase almost fifteenfold once these new projects are built.

The driving imperative behind this massive increase in battery storage capacity is that the government has committed itself to reaching a position of being carbon neutral by the year 2050 and recently ending the sale of petrol and diesel-powered cars by 2030.

The Future of Battery Storage Systems

To achieve these highly ambitious targets, there are two possible solutions. One is to have a highly enhanced, 24/7 system of generating these renewables and, thus, the need for massive battery storage facilities. The other option is the creation of local-based solutions with communities themselves, owning and controlling localised wind and solar energy-producing facilities. A massive increase in battery energy storage systems will be needed to cope with the expected increase in power that will be generated by increasing the number of offshore turbines and the increasing number of solar farms.

Is mass storage the answer?

The question is: is building massive battery storage systems the answer to meeting the electricity demands of the United Kingdom in the future? Could the answer be provided by using the enormous network of high street car parks and garages and utilising the combined power of the vehicles that use them? Experts in the field of electric cars think the answer to that question is yes.

Over the last 25 years, carbon dioxide emissions from the generation of power for the electric grid have fallen by a massive 15 per cent, meaning car emissions are now the most significant contributor to United Kingdom-wide emissions at over 30 per cent.

Electric vehicles are growing in popularity in all their forms. However, they are still only at 10 per cent of total car sales, and it will take a real shift in attitude to electric cars before they significantly help to reduce the car industry’s reliance on fossil fuel. To achieve this reduction, there must be the necessary charging points before people accept the need for change. As well, the uptake of electric vehicles will increase demands on the electricity supply, which comes in part from natural gas (over 30 per cent), partly from nuclear and increasingly from renewables.

How Green Cars Could be Used as a System for Battery Energy Storage

Another plus point of electric cars is the fact that when they are engaged in the act of charging, the national grid could have, in effect, free access to any unused energy in that vehicle’s energy cell at times of peak demand. Just the act of charging an electric vehicle makes the overall electricity supply more cost-effective and, therefore, greener. If you multiply all the cars charging in one location, this is, in effect, creating a localised cell facility. This type of storage, known as V2G (vehicle to grid), if harnessed properly, may be much more efficient and have much lower costs than large out-of-town storage cell facilities.

The numbers are mind-boggling. If the UK harnessed the possible energy transfers of the nearly forty million vehicles that use Britain’s roads, then the collective storage capacity of this super ‘battery’ would be a staggering two hundred and twenty thousand gigawatts. That would massively surpass the storage capacity that is being planned with the upgrade of storage cell facilities. This V2G technology could be one of the innovations that help deliver on the projected total switch to electric vehicles.


Storing electricity in individual cars, rather than costly battery storage system facilities, could be a driver in the growth of electric vehicle use. The potential storage capacity of Britain’s road users is immense and might help avoid the need for colossal power storage units. These power storage units could cost hundreds of millions of pounds. It should not be forgotten that the tab will, of course, be passed on to the purchasers and users of electric vehicles.

The costs of producing energy at a cell storage facility also come with all the inherent costs associated with setting up any large-scale facility. Specialised cooling systems and a strict regulatory framework governing the running of such a site will add to running costs, in addition to the spending on building and infrastructure costs.

Weighing Up the Pros and Cons of V2G and Large-Scale Battery Storage Systems

The only potential drawback to the mass use of V2G cell storage is that the idea is in its very early stages. There are a few technical and logistical hurdles that would need to be facilitated to connect all these vehicles to the national grid. However, the good news is that all the necessary technologies exist in one form or another; these various strands need to be pulled together for this technology to be in widespread use.

There are already a few examples of V2G being trialled in the United Kingdom. One such small-scale example is a project being trialled by Nissan whereby any captured energy in a household’s solar panels is transferred to the cell in that home’s electric vehicle and stored there until the energy demand of the house requires it. This trial looks to be both practical and promises the hope of broader use.

In conclusion, whilst agreeing that there is a need to dramatically increase the capacity of battery energy storage systems in the UK, we feel that perhaps instead of concentrating on extensive storage cell facilities, the spotlight should be cast elsewhere. By encouraging a shift to electric vehicles and then harnessing the combined storage power of each vehicle, a much more energy-efficient and greener outcome for Britain’s transportation needs could be achieved.

YOK Energy is one of the UK’s leading manufacturers of battery packs for use across a range of industrial and consumer applications. If you would like to improve the battery quality of your specific product, then please do not hesitate to contact us.



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