Project to boost UK homes’ long duration energy storage potential

A consortium comprising Q-zeta Limited, Lightsource Labs, the University of Strathclyde and led by Energy Systems Catapult will receive £149,831 to demonstrate that the Q-zeta domestic thermal store can provide high-capacity, low-cost longer duration energy storage for the UK energy system.

Funded through the Longer Duration Energy Storage Demonstration competition, part of the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy’s Net Zero Innovation Portfolio, the project will focus on a feasibility study of the technology, with the goal of progressing to a 50-home demonstration of the technology in a later phase.

Q-zeta’s storage unit is a high-efficiency thermal store that can be easily integrated into the conventional gas or oil-fired central heating systems found in over 90% of UK homes.

The system combines numerous innovations to increase energy density, reduce energy loss – its average round trip efficiency is 97% – and achieve among the lowest operating costs per kWh compared with other domestic energy storage technologies.

The Q-zeta system is also designed to cost-effectively address, with a single technical solution, two of the most critical challenges in achieving net zero targets:

  • Provide large scale grid storage capacity facilitating a high percentage of variable renewable energy in the generation mix.
  • Cost-effectively decarbonise domestic heating which currently accounts for 50MtCO2e/annum, or 23% of the UK’s total carbon emissions.

The proposed system would pair the technology with Lightsource Labs’ home energy management system to create a smart, distributed energy storage system which can respond flexibly to market and operational signals, storing energy when it is cleaner and cheaper and discharging it later to meet consumers’ heat demand.

If scaled-up to use in around 20 million UK homes, the project estimates the system would provide up to 1TWh of long duration storage capacity, helping Britain maximise its zero carbon energy use and reduce the need for fossil fuel generation to provide back-up capacity.

Energy and Climate Change Minister Greg Hands said:

“Driving forward energy storage technologies will be vital in our transition towards cheap, clean and secure renewable energy.

“It will allow us to extract the full benefit from our home-grown renewable energy sources, drive down costs and end our reliance on volatile and expensive fossil fuels. Through this competition we are making sure the country’s most innovative scientists and thinkers have our backing to make this ambition a reality.”

Marc Brown, Living Lab commercial lead at Energy Systems Catapult, said:

“If Britain is to meet its ambitious net zero targets we need to support the development of new long duration energy storage solutions. This project is taking an innovative thermal store technology and assessing the impact it could have in helping to decarbonise heat in homes across the country. By simulating different scenarios and conditions, and how smart home tech can respond flexibly to signals, we can better understand its potential benefits to inform future policy and market design.”

The Catapult is also leading a separate project, funded through the same Longer Duration Energy Storage Demonstration competition, to develop a battery storage technology which could help reduce the curtailment of wind power on Britain’s grid.

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