Wärtsilä, the technology group, has explained that the UK will need to install a greater degree of flexible energy storage, together with more gas technologies, if it hopes to achieve a 100% renewable energy future.
The company has identified that the UK needs just under 50GW of flexible energy storage assets in order to allow Britain to meet its power needs from 100% renewable energy, at a competitive cost. This total capacity would ideally be met from a blend of 7.3GW of energy storage, complemented with 42GW of flexible gas energy.
Within the G20 group of nations, the firm believes that the UK lies in thirteenth place when it comes to the need for flexible energy solutions.
Wärtsilä says that the need for generous overcapacity is driven by the variable nature of solar and wind generation. By striking a balance between flexible gas production and energy storage, the costs of meeting 100% renewable targets would be up to 40% lower than using 'basic' energy storage facilities on their own.
Energy Business Director at Wärtsilä, Pekka Tolonen, said that the UK had received a clear message from a recent UN report which called on the nation to decarbonise its energy systems at the lowest costs, by scaling up renewable infrastructure and investment heavily by 2030.
He added that modelling from 145 countries showed that a significant degree of flexibility was needed where renewables were concerned, with gas balancing technologies and flexible energy storage systems optimised to achieve a 100% renewable future.
The UK is already a global leader in offshore wind energy, thanks to its reliable and steady winds and existing private investment, supported by government subsidy schemes. By 2050, the government is targeting a 80% reduction in damaging carbon emissions.