Electricity will meet an increasing fraction of the world’s growing energy needs as fossil fuels are phased out. In many countries, most will be provided by wind and solar. To match wind and solar, which are volatile, with demand, which is variable, they must be complemented by using wind and solar generated electricity that has been stored when there is an excess, and/or supply from large-scale flexible low-carbon sources, of which there are very few. I will describe the findings of a study (which can be found at royalsociety.org/electricity-storage) of a range of options that can provide reliable electricity when wind and solar generation, with or without steady baseload supply, is unable to meet demand directly. The biggest challenge is the long-term variability of wind speeds, which in Great Britain requires some very long-term large-scale storage, that would best be provided by hydrogen. The detailed conclusions on the storage that will be needed, and its cost - which appears to be acceptable, are specific to Great Britain, but the methodology used to assess the need for storage and the conclusions on technologies are general.
Coffee and tea served at 16:00pm.