Traditional models for energy distribution are changing globally, the transition being largely driven by the CO2 debate. The existing infrastructure of large-scale (~100s MW) centralised power producers connected to central transmission and distribution grids is being replaced by much smarter and more flexible systems. These will enable the connection of intermittent renewables, micro generators and will have the capacity for bi-directional flows of electricity. In many locations they will have to incorporate electrified transport and heating systems. In order to operate stably, large amounts of stored electrical energy will have to be incorporated, principally to replace fossil fuel stockpiles that act as de facto energy storage.
Expectations are that energy storage will be ubiquitous; from domestic devices, traction batteries through to systems large enough to stabilise electrical grids for many weeks on end, and to be able to store energy from one season to another. Scaling up existing batteries, which have revolutionised portable consumer electronics, to meet new demands is not good enough: New and innovative ways of thinking are necessary.
This colloquium will set the framework for changes in the energy market then review developments in two new technologies, the Li-air battery and ionic liquid based supercapacitors. However, it is recognised that all new technical developments need to be linked to emerging economic and policy frameworks. Such questions as consumer acceptability and the global availability of strategic materials become major drivers for research.
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