Weekly column by EUA's Chief Executive Mike Foster
Monday 30th November 2015
Energy policy is often viewed through the prism of supply (what source of fuel) and end use (consumers using electric for power and say gas for heat). Very little attention is paid to the steps in between – distribution/transmission and storage. Yet what I call the “availability” of energy is what matters most to the end user, and therefore those setting policy.
The recent warning from National Grid about power demand reduction, the first for a number of years, has brought this issue into focus.
Part of the problem is the lack of storage for energy. There is considerable interest in electricity storage and batteries. A leading academic told me last week that there was a limited supply of lithium on earth, so batteries may not be the silver bullet. I wonder, and I genuinely don’t know the answer, whether there is enough supply of copper to extend the infrastructure needed for a massive increase in electricity to be transmitted.
So I got to wonder, if only…If only there was a way of storing energy for end use, transporting it from source to consumer. Obviously this storage and distribution should be affordable. Ideally, it should be underground where it is less prone to damage from the weather, and not a visible eye-sore. Even better if it had longevity and would be around for the next 50 years or more. A really good result would be that the vast majority of households could connect to this system, to meet the needs of the many.
So, does anyone out there know where we could get such infrastructure from?
Mike Foster CE
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