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Energy storage is principally aimed at coping with the fluctuations in demand for energy, for example meeting the peaks in demand on very cold winter days. Gas, oil and coal can be readily stored and these industries have well developed means for providing the appropriate storage facilities. Electricity by its nature cannot yet be readily stored in large quantities.

However, there is a widely held view that electricity storage has a role to play in the future of energy, helping to integrate increasing levels of renewable generation into the UK generation mix

The main energy storage R&D efforts in the UK are focussed on reducing the capital and running costs of the electricity storage technologies most suited to providing flexible local energy storage to electricity distribution networks.

These technologies include advanced battery systems, flywheels, compressed air systems and thermal-to-electric systems.

There is a wide range of sources of R&D funding from the UK central government, the Research Councils and the electricity companies through the Low Carbon Networks Fund that is funded as part of the current price control mechanism from consumer utility bills and regulated by Ofgem.

According to the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council, the UK is currently world leading in some niche areas of energy storage, such as lithium battery and super capacitor research, but may be less strong in others. Research is being geared at those areas that would best benefit from new R&D efforts

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