Where's the storage research?

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Adam Barber
June 17, 2013
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This content is from our archive. Some formatting or links may be broken.
Where's the storage research?



The wind industry is as good as any other at taking a long and hard look at itself. Through conferences, shows and informal discussions, we dissect the state of the sector and the ways it might evolve.

Such introspection is both necessary and desirable. If we cannot keep our own house in order and our own progress on track then we have little chance of being taken seriously in the wider context of global energy markets.

But that doesn’t mean we should forget about the world around us. Wind energy does not just depend on government support, benign regulation and a receptive investor climate.

It also depends on there being sense in producing wind energy to begin with. For a long time, the rationale for our industry has been that the world needs more renewable energy and wind is in many cases the cheapest and safest way to get it.

There have always been weaknesses with this argument, though. Massive onshore wind farm developments can irk even the most hardened climate change campaigner. Offshore wind cannot yet to be that cheap.

And perhaps perniciously of all, wind still suffers from major intermittency problems. True, there are ways to deal with this without falling back on hydrocarbon or nuclear fuels.

Smart grids can help even out supply and demand, for example. Interconnectors can make it easier to ship excess energy to wherever it is needed.

Plus there is an entire emerging industry that rarely gets talked about but could help: energy storage.

In Germany, energy storage is already aiding the solar industry by allowing community and residential customers to take better advantage of rooftop panels.

The kind of energy storage that would benefit wind power is likely to be in a different league, but what is important is that the research and development to make it happen needs to be supported now.

Frankly, though, there is little sign of that happening.

In the UK, industry insiders believe that the Government is starting to provide some support but remain to be convinced that it's throwing its shoulder behind the wheel.

Part of the problem could be the lack of an obvious technology to back. This is something the wind industry could help with, however.

By getting behind energy storage, we won’t just be giving an allied sector a helping hand; we will also be securing our own future.



The wind industry is as good as any other at taking a long and hard look at itself. Through conferences, shows and informal discussions, we dissect the state of the sector and the ways it might evolve.

Such introspection is both necessary and desirable. If we cannot keep our own house in order and our own progress on track then we have little chance of being taken seriously in the wider context of global energy markets.

But that doesn’t mean we should forget about the world around us. Wind energy does not just depend on government support, benign regulation and a receptive investor climate.

It also depends on there being sense in producing wind energy to begin with. For a long time, the rationale for our industry has been that the world needs more renewable energy and wind is in many cases the cheapest and safest way to get it.

There have always been weaknesses with this argument, though. Massive onshore wind farm developments can irk even the most hardened climate change campaigner. Offshore wind cannot yet to be that cheap.

And perhaps perniciously of all, wind still suffers from major intermittency problems. True, there are ways to deal with this without falling back on hydrocarbon or nuclear fuels.

Smart grids can help even out supply and demand, for example. Interconnectors can make it easier to ship excess energy to wherever it is needed.

Plus there is an entire emerging industry that rarely gets talked about but could help: energy storage.

In Germany, energy storage is already aiding the solar industry by allowing community and residential customers to take better advantage of rooftop panels.

The kind of energy storage that would benefit wind power is likely to be in a different league, but what is important is that the research and development to make it happen needs to be supported now.

Frankly, though, there is little sign of that happening.

In the UK, industry insiders believe that the Government is starting to provide some support but remain to be convinced that it's throwing its shoulder behind the wheel.

Part of the problem could be the lack of an obvious technology to back. This is something the wind industry could help with, however.

By getting behind energy storage, we won’t just be giving an allied sector a helping hand; we will also be securing our own future.



The wind industry is as good as any other at taking a long and hard look at itself. Through conferences, shows and informal discussions, we dissect the state of the sector and the ways it might evolve.

Such introspection is both necessary and desirable. If we cannot keep our own house in order and our own progress on track then we have little chance of being taken seriously in the wider context of global energy markets.

But that doesn’t mean we should forget about the world around us. Wind energy does not just depend on government support, benign regulation and a receptive investor climate.

It also depends on there being sense in producing wind energy to begin with. For a long time, the rationale for our industry has been that the world needs more renewable energy and wind is in many cases the cheapest and safest way to get it.

There have always been weaknesses with this argument, though. Massive onshore wind farm developments can irk even the most hardened climate change campaigner. Offshore wind cannot yet to be that cheap.

And perhaps perniciously of all, wind still suffers from major intermittency problems. True, there are ways to deal with this without falling back on hydrocarbon or nuclear fuels.

Smart grids can help even out supply and demand, for example. Interconnectors can make it easier to ship excess energy to wherever it is needed.

Plus there is an entire emerging industry that rarely gets talked about but could help: energy storage.

In Germany, energy storage is already aiding the solar industry by allowing community and residential customers to take better advantage of rooftop panels.

The kind of energy storage that would benefit wind power is likely to be in a different league, but what is important is that the research and development to make it happen needs to be supported now.

Frankly, though, there is little sign of that happening.

In the UK, industry insiders believe that the Government is starting to provide some support but remain to be convinced that it's throwing its shoulder behind the wheel.

Part of the problem could be the lack of an obvious technology to back. This is something the wind industry could help with, however.

By getting behind energy storage, we won’t just be giving an allied sector a helping hand; we will also be securing our own future.



The wind industry is as good as any other at taking a long and hard look at itself. Through conferences, shows and informal discussions, we dissect the state of the sector and the ways it might evolve.

Such introspection is both necessary and desirable. If we cannot keep our own house in order and our own progress on track then we have little chance of being taken seriously in the wider context of global energy markets.

But that doesn’t mean we should forget about the world around us. Wind energy does not just depend on government support, benign regulation and a receptive investor climate.

It also depends on there being sense in producing wind energy to begin with. For a long time, the rationale for our industry has been that the world needs more renewable energy and wind is in many cases the cheapest and safest way to get it.

There have always been weaknesses with this argument, though. Massive onshore wind farm developments can irk even the most hardened climate change campaigner. Offshore wind cannot yet to be that cheap.

And perhaps perniciously of all, wind still suffers from major intermittency problems. True, there are ways to deal with this without falling back on hydrocarbon or nuclear fuels.

Smart grids can help even out supply and demand, for example. Interconnectors can make it easier to ship excess energy to wherever it is needed.

Plus there is an entire emerging industry that rarely gets talked about but could help: energy storage.

In Germany, energy storage is already aiding the solar industry by allowing community and residential customers to take better advantage of rooftop panels.

The kind of energy storage that would benefit wind power is likely to be in a different league, but what is important is that the research and development to make it happen needs to be supported now.

Frankly, though, there is little sign of that happening.

In the UK, industry insiders believe that the Government is starting to provide some support but remain to be convinced that it's throwing its shoulder behind the wheel.

Part of the problem could be the lack of an obvious technology to back. This is something the wind industry could help with, however.

By getting behind energy storage, we won’t just be giving an allied sector a helping hand; we will also be securing our own future.



The wind industry is as good as any other at taking a long and hard look at itself. Through conferences, shows and informal discussions, we dissect the state of the sector and the ways it might evolve.

Such introspection is both necessary and desirable. If we cannot keep our own house in order and our own progress on track then we have little chance of being taken seriously in the wider context of global energy markets.

But that doesn’t mean we should forget about the world around us. Wind energy does not just depend on government support, benign regulation and a receptive investor climate.

It also depends on there being sense in producing wind energy to begin with. For a long time, the rationale for our industry has been that the world needs more renewable energy and wind is in many cases the cheapest and safest way to get it.

There have always been weaknesses with this argument, though. Massive onshore wind farm developments can irk even the most hardened climate change campaigner. Offshore wind cannot yet to be that cheap.

And perhaps perniciously of all, wind still suffers from major intermittency problems. True, there are ways to deal with this without falling back on hydrocarbon or nuclear fuels.

Smart grids can help even out supply and demand, for example. Interconnectors can make it easier to ship excess energy to wherever it is needed.

Plus there is an entire emerging industry that rarely gets talked about but could help: energy storage.

In Germany, energy storage is already aiding the solar industry by allowing community and residential customers to take better advantage of rooftop panels.

The kind of energy storage that would benefit wind power is likely to be in a different league, but what is important is that the research and development to make it happen needs to be supported now.

Frankly, though, there is little sign of that happening.

In the UK, industry insiders believe that the Government is starting to provide some support but remain to be convinced that it's throwing its shoulder behind the wheel.

Part of the problem could be the lack of an obvious technology to back. This is something the wind industry could help with, however.

By getting behind energy storage, we won’t just be giving an allied sector a helping hand; we will also be securing our own future.

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Not a member yet?

Become a member of the 6,500-strong A Word About Wind community today, and gain access to our premium content, exclusive lead generation and investment opportunities.