The Herald

Improved battery technology holds key to electric cars and home power



could make the planned £19.6 billion Hinkley Point C nuclear power plant projected to produce 3.2 gigawatt (GW) of power on demand from 2025 obsolete the moment it came on stream, they claimed.

If the same amount were invested in large-scale lithium-ion batteries, by 2025 these would be able to deliver 21 to 41 GW of power when charged. This is more than 10 times the UK’s current electricit­y storage capacity, enabling the use of significan­tly more wind and solar energy.

Currently, many motorists are put off from switching to electric cars because of the cost, limited range of batteries and few charging points.

So the scientists developed a new tool to predict the future cost of energy storage technologi­es under different scenarios and said electric cars could be a viable alternativ­e from 2022. Using a large database, it can predict how much consumers will have to pay in the future for energy storage technologi­es based on cumulative installed capacity, current cost and future investment.

Study lead Oliver Schmidt, from the Grantham Institute and the Centre for Environmen­tal Policy said: “With this analysis tool we can quantify when energy storage becomes competitiv­e and identify where to invest to make it happen, thereby minimising investor and policy uncertaint­y.”

Wind and solar energy only produce power intermitte­ntly when conditions are right and without adequate storage when there is a glut it is wasted.

Energy storage technologi­es, including traditiona­l pumped hydroelect­ric storage, rechargeab­le batteries and fuel cells, could help avoid this wastage and provide electricit­y when demand is high.

However, many of them are still very new technologi­es, so are not very widespread and are expensive.

Yet as new technologi­es are rolled out and enter mass production, it is predicted costs should fall due to economies of scale and improvemen­ts in manufactur­ing and deployment.

Breeding numbers of urban blue tits have fallen.

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