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On Tuesday 18 November, Dr Jonathan Radcliffe, Senior Research Fellow and Toby Peters, Visiting Professor, Chair of Power and Cold Economy, at the University of Birmingham, presented to the Parliamentary and Scientific Committee in the Boothroyd Room, Portcullis House at Westminster, to discuss the issues surrounding Energy Storage. 

The Parliamentary and Scientific Committee is a major focus for scientific and technological issues providing a liaison between Parliamentarians and scientific bodies, science-based industry and the academic world. The Committee focuses on issues where science and politics meet, informing Members of both Houses of Parliament. It demonstrates the relevance of scientific and technological developments to matters of public interest and to the development of national policy.

Dr Radcliffe, co-Director of the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC), Energy Storage Supergen Hub, emphasised the importance of collaboration between academics and industry, as this will set the direction and development of research and technologies in Energy. Professor Peters highlighted the need to bring cold into the system-level thinking on energy and how cold and power energy storage could play a crucial role in the transition to a cost-effective and resilient low carbon energy system.

Upon commenting on the discussion, Dr Radcliffe said:

I wanted the Committee to understand how the deployment of energy storage, alongside other technologies, could lead to a seismic shift in the energy supply industry, allowing local energy systems to play a much more significant role in the future. Multiple technologies are currently being developed, which will respond to the challenges that we will be faced with over the next 10-15 years. The business case for commercialisation has not been well established, due to a number of policy and regulatory barriers. These prevent the value of energy storage being accessed, and risk pushing technology development to other markets.

Professor Peters added: 

This opportunity enabled the Committee to understand the areas that needed to improve and also what this means in terms of energy storage. In the UK alone, more than 10% of electricity demand is being used to meet cold needs, and around £5.2 billion is spent in the current UK energy system on energy for cooling. Highlighting these issues was of great importance, as cold is not adequately represented when future energy needs are quantified.

  • The Parliamentary and Scientific Committee was established in 1939 with the aim of improving the understanding within Parliament of the implications of the science underpinning many of the issues with which those in both Houses have to contend.
  • The Committee publishes a journal, Science in Parliament, four times a year, in which the addresses given at meetings are reported. Its circulation includes all Members of the House of Commons, many of the Peers in the House of Lords and British Members of the European Parliament, the scientific and industrial membership of the Committee and science attachés in UK embassies abroad. 
  • Professor Toby Peter’s company, Dearman Engine Company (DEC) are designing and developing sustainable, clean and cheaper low-carbon solutions to meet cooling and power needs for transport and grid
  • Dr Jonathan Radcliffe is currently developing a national Roadmap for Energy Storage, which will join-up technology developments with the energy systems requirements and business opportunities.

140 academic staff from 4 colleges and 17 schools at the University of Birmingham are engaged in energy and energy related research and development. The Birmingham Energy Institute (BEI) is a focal point for the University and its national and international partners, to create change in the way we deliver, consume and think about energy. The focus being ‘Energy systems’, ‘The Business of Energy’, ‘Energy and Transport’ and ‘Breakthroughs in Energy Technologies’. Co-ordinated research, education and the development of global partnerships is at the heart of the Birmingham Energy Institute vision drawing on recognised centres of excellence in Energy Storage, Nuclear Energy, Fuel Cells and their Fuels, Railway and Automotive Systems and Energy Policy and Economics.

More information about the BEI can be found at