Hydrogen and battery technologies are expected to play an increasingly important role in the UK’s transition to net zero by 2050, but varying timescales for their deployment add uncertainty to projected market share profiles over time, according to a new report.
However, there are still considerable uncertainties in the relative adoption of both technologies, according to “The Role of Hydrogen and Batteries in Delivering Net Zero in UK by 2050” by Norway’s DNV and commissioned by the UK-based Faraday Institution.
“Batteries and hydrogen have distinct properties and should largely be seen as complementary technologies rather than competing technologies,” says Faraday Institution CEO Pam Thomas. “Both will require significant technological progress and a large scale-up of production and deployment if the UK is to meet its commitment to reach net zero by 2050. The varying timetables for their deployment lead to significant uncertainties in projected market share profiles over time.”
In particular, the adoption of these two technologies in various sectors, including road vehicles, aviation, maritime, rail, built environment, manufacturing and electricity, is influenced by the level of technology development, infrastructure development, capital costs and total cost of ownership. , customer perceptions and other political factors, the report states.
According to the report, the primary use of battery technology is focused on road transport, accounting for 88 percent of all battery use by 2050, with the aviation and energy sectors accounting for most of the remaining energy use. Batteries are only used to a limited extent in the rail and marine sectors, with no significant use in industry or the built environment, while vehicle-to-grid (V2G) and behind-the-meter solar applications have been hijacked in the electricity sector.
For hydrogen, energy use is more evenly distributed with aviation, shipping and industry covering 79 percent of all hydrogen use by 2050, in addition to the contribution of road transport and the energy sector. The overlap between batteries and hydrogen is expected to be limited in the energy sector, and hydrogen will be used to balance demand over a longer seasonal period.
DNV predicts utility class BESS to rise to 24 GW, and has modeled the average energy duration of BESS to increase from the current hour to almost four hours by 2050, in addition to which electric vehicles will become 45 GW of V2G energy storage.
However, DNV’s calculation looks cautious compared to recent figures from Norwegian consultancy Rystad Energy, which expects 24 GW of utility batteries to be installed by the end of this decade, attracting up to $20 billion in investment.
“Large-scale battery development will soon be the norm in the UK, solving the problem of balancing short-term electricity demand with the intermittency of wind and solar. And this could be just the beginning. More growth could soon be on the way if the government introduces additional incentives to encourage investment,” says Pratheeksha R, Renewable energy analyst at Rystad Energy.
Of the UK’s 4.7 GW of installed energy storage capacity, BESS accounts for approximately 2.1 GW. Most of the current capacity, 2.8 GW, comes from pumped water storage. The UK government is aiming for 30 GW of capacity by 2030, including batteries, flywheel, pumped water and liquid air energy storage.