Using gas grid to store excess electricity could boost UK renewables

9th May 2018 | Commercial Energy

Government and industry should boost investment in technology to promote the use of hydrogen as a way of storing energy, which would make the UK energy system greener and more efficient, according to a new report by the Institution of Mechanical Engineers.

The technology would allow the gas grid to be used to store excess electricity, in the form of hydrogen, and support and expansion of renewable power in the UK. One of the barriers to increasing renewable capacity in the UK is the inability to store excess electricity – if, for example, it is very windy but demand levels are low.

The recommendation is made in the report, “Energy from Gas: Taking a Whole System Approach”, which outlines key ways that gas could be used to make the UK energy system greener, cheaper and more efficient.


“Government and industry need to step up efforts to provide funding programmes and demonstration sites to encourage the greater use of hydrogen as energy storage,” said Dr Jenifer Baxter, Head of Engineering at the Institution of Mechanical Engineers and lead author of the report. “The UK has a strong track record of being at the cutting edge of new energy developments, and this could present the country with a chance to be a world leader in power-to-gas and hydrogen technology.”

The report calls for more support for power to gas technology, which is when excess electricity on the National Grid, from either high levels renewable generation or low demand, is used to create hydrogen through electrolysis. This can be used locally or injected into the gas grid at a low hydrogen concentration. Apart from producing “green” gas, it can also be used to balance the electricity grid.

The UK gas grid has the potential to store excess electricity in the form of hydrogen, for a greater amount of time than some other forms of energy storage, such as batteries.

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