The UK Energy Storage Observatory: sharing data for energy storage research

21 Apr 2021

Authors: Jonathan Radcliffe and Omar Saeed, University of Birmingham

Energy storage is positioned as a key enabler for wider decarbonisation in the government’s Energy White Paper, with a £67 million competition for the demonstration of “longer duration energy storage” recently announced. BEIS has also just published figures that show over 600 MW of new energy storage capacity was deployed in the last five years (see figure below).

We are mapping progress through the UK Energy Storage Observatory (UKESTO) as part of the £5m EPSRC-funded Multi-scale Analysis for Facilities for Energy Storage (MANIFEST) project. This includes over 70 operational energy storage facilities on an interactive map, as well as equipment funded by EPSRC, and we are now gathering information on other facilities.

A good start but more to do

It is clear that the role of energy storage within the UK’s electricity system is recognised, but the current level is still a small proportion of what is expected over the next 10 years: National Grid scenarios indicate up to 8 GW of new storage capacity is needed by 2030. In particular, there is a need for storage that can capture surplus electricity from additional GW’s of off-shore wind, and discharge to meet demand. Achieving such a scale-up is a challenge, and some of the non-technical issues that need to be addressed are described in this article. Our UK Roadmap for Energy Storage Research and Innovation sets out priorities to enable it to happen.

Figure: Installation of non-pumped-hydro energy storage in the UK. (Source: BEIS Renewable Energy Planning Database.)

Two mechanisms brought forward a rush of projects between 2016 and 2017, these were the Enhanced Frequency Response (EFR) tender and the Capacity Market (CM). However, the chart shows how the growth seems to have plateaued. Rule changes and lower prices in the CM haven’t helped, and procurement for EFR was not repeated. A good sign, though, is that over 250 MW of de-rated battery capacity was successful in the recent T-4 capacity market auction. Most of this is new-build, meaning that well over 250 MW of full capacity will be installed on the grid by 2025.

Sharing data

One of the challenges for energy storage development is that data from operational facilities is not generally available. Knowledge of how energy storage technologies actually perform under different conditions is extremely valuable to researchers. To this end, UKESTO is providing a platform for sharing experimental results generated from operational runs as part of the MANIFEST project. Once an experiment is completed, the asset owner prepares their dataset and uploads it to UKERC’s Energy Data Centre. We then link to the dataset on our searchable, user-friendly database.

In the last few weeks, researchers from the University of Sheffield have provided data on the efficiency of lithium-titanate batteries and the efficiency of an emulated Energy Storage System (ESS) has been measured in the Smart Grid laboratory at Newcastle University.

We have now issued a call to the energy storage community and welcome anyone with an interest in sharing an energy storage facility on our map or experimental results via our database to get in touch.


Over the coming months, the UK Government must solidify its plans to deliver the ambitions laid out in the Energy White Paper though the new Smart Systems Plan. Both technological innovation and market mechanisms will be needed. With such ambition, the more information on energy storage available, the more potential there is to positively inform decision-making, and ensure technology choices meet the needs of the future energy system.


  • The Multi-scale Analysis for Facilities for Energy Storage project (EP/N032888/1) is a £5m investment from the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council.
  • The UK Energy Storage Observatory received initial funding as part of the MANIFEST project (EP/N032888/1).
  • As a resource for the energy storage community, the UK Energy Storage Observatory received further funding for updates as part the Supergen Energy Storage Network+ (EP/S032622/1) led by the University of Birmingham.

If you would like to get in touch about the UK Energy Storage Observatory or the MANIFEST project, please contact Omar Saeed, MANIFEST Project Manager (

About the authors:

Dr Jonathan Radcliffe is a Reader in Energy Systems and Innovation at the University of Birmingham, and leads the Resilient Cities theme for the university’s Institute for Global Innovation. His research focuses on policy and techno-economic analysis of energy systems, with particular emphasis on the integration of new technologies in the context of a wider socio-technical transition. He is an investigator on several major research projects, including PI of the £5m EPSRC-funded projects, ‘MANIFEST, and a co-I for the Innovate-UK-funded ‘Repowering the Black Country’ phase 2 cluster plan. He is the Back Country academic lead for the Industrial Decarbonisation Research and Innovation Centre (IDRIC) and member of the Scientific Advisory Committee for UKRI’s Energy Programme.

Omar Saeed is a Project Manager at the University of Birmingham’s Centre for Energy Storage. He manages a portfolio of projects with industry, intergovernmental organisations, including the International Renewable Energy Agency’s Thermal Energy Storage Innovation Outlook. He also manages the EPSRC funded Multi-Scale Analysis for Facilities for Energy Storage (MANIFEST) project. He joined the University after 4 years of working in energy-focused research collaborations across the higher education sector and assisting with the initiation of the Energy Research Accelerator. Omar receives funding from the EPSRC and the Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy. He has a background in environmental science and completed his MSc in Environment and Sustainable Development at University College London.