The impact of electricity storage on CO2 emissions in the British power sector

By balancing inflexible or intermittent supply with demand, electricity storage could enable higher penetration of low-carbon electricity leading to lower long-run carbon intensity of the power sector. But, the extent to which increasing levels of storage influence the carbon intensity of the power sector is unclear. Similarly, the investments required to install sufficient storage capacity, in particular in light of rapidly reducing costs, are uncertain.

We simulate the impact of electricity storage on CO2 emissions in the British power sector up to 2060 (Fig.1). While levels of storage are set exogenously, power generation investment decisions are optimised for least-cost capacity dispatch to meet hourly electricity demand. Based on previously compiled experience curves to project future prices for storage technologies, we determine the corresponding investment requirements for sufficient storage capacity to minimize the carbon intensity of the British power sector.

Figure 1 – Electricity generation projection for Great Britain. Results obtained with least-cost operating decisions and a profit-maximising investment model, assuming doubling of pumped hydro storage capacity in this example.

Preliminary results indicate that technologies with long discharge durations, e.g. Power-to-Gas, exhibit lowest marginal CO2 abatement costs, despite low round-trip efficiencies and high capital cost (Fig. 2). This has potential implications for policy supporting decarbonisation of the British power sector.

Figure 1 – Electricity generation projection for Great Britain. Results obtained with least-cost operating decisions and a profit-maximising investment model, assuming doubling of pumped hydro storage capacity in this example.

 Project in progress.

Oliver Schmidt

Centre for Environmental Policy (CEP)

​South Kensington Campus

Imperial College London

London SW7 2AZ, UK

tel: +44 79 345 487 36

e-mail: o.schmidt15@imperial.ac.uk

LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/in/oliver-schmidt/