Skip to content
What's on

Energy storage: automotive and grids



The Royal Society, London, 6-9 Carlton House Terrace, London, SW1Y 5AG


Image credit: alengo

Energy is of immense societal importance, pervading all areas life, and high performance energy storage systems will be essential in developing a sustainable future economy. As such, energy storage systems represent a key area of scientific and engineering endeavour now and in the future. There is great potential for next generation technologies to change the way we live and disrupt existing industries, generating new start-up companies and economic opportunities for the UK and elsewhere.

Realising the potential for energy storage systems across all aspects of our modern economy and society requires transformational science and engineering closely allied with industry and government. This conference will look at the fundamental advances necessary to “move the dial” in performance and cost, how breakthroughs are pulled through innovation into commercialisation, and the policy issues related to advancing energy storage for automotive and grids.

Attending this event

This conference aims to bring together national and international leaders in energy storage systems and is intended for participants from across academia, industry and government.

Contact the Industry team for more information.

About the conference series

The conference is part of the Society's Transforming our future conference series, launched to address the major scientific and technical challenges of the next decade and beyond. Each conference will focus on one topic and will seek to cover key issues, including:

  • The current state of the key industry sectors involved
  • The position of the UK and how it can benefit from the technology
  • The future direction of research
  • The challenges faced in turning research into commercial success
  • The skills base needed to deliver major economic scientific advances
  • The wider social and economic impacts

The conferences are a key component of the Society’s five-year Science, Industry and Translation initiative which demonstrates our commitment to reintegrate science and industry at the Society and to promote science and its value by connecting academia, industry and government.

Event organisers

Select an organiser for more information

Schedule of talks

23 January


Registration and refreshments


Welcome remarks

1 talk Show detail Hide detail

Professor Alexander Halliday FRS, Physical Secretary and Vice-President, the Royal Society

Show speakers


Ministerial address


The opportunities for energy storage

3 talks Show detail Hide detail

Energy policy approaches and the energy transition

Joan MacNaughton, CB, The Climate Group


The energy sector is in a period of unprecedented transition, driven by the forces of decarbonisation, decentralisation, and digitalisation. The recent impact of these forces on the sector will be briefly described. With decentralisation and digitalisation, the roles of participants – suppliers, system operators and consumers – will change, as will the way in which transmission and distribution is managed. New market participants will emerge to take advantage of the opportunities provided by the need to ensure greater system flexibility. The consumer will increasingly become an active participant rather than a passive recipient of energy as a commodity. While this disruption will be most evident across the electricity sector, changes driven by the decarbonisation agenda and the march of technology will be felt strongly also in the buildings and transport sectors. Industrial processes will undergo radical transformation. How will energy storage play into all of this? What roles will it play and how quickly will it scale? What policy and regulatory approaches are needed to facilitate the achievement of secure, affordable, and clean energy while incentivising innovation, including in the use of storage? What approaches will best produce an efficiently functioning market with appropriate protection of the consumer?

Show speakers

Energy storage and the grid

Dr Jorge Pikunic, Managing Director, Distributed Energy and Power, Centrica

Show speakers

Transport energy storage

David Howell, Deputy Director, Vehicle Technologies Office, U.S. Department of Energy


The Department of Energy’s Vehicle Technology Office (VTO) funds high-reward/high-risk research conducted by national laboratories, universities, and industry – and attempts to develop low-cost and high-performance automotive batteries necessary for the consumer acceptance of electric vehicles (EV) in the marketplace. In 2017, VTO battery R&D funding approached $100 million.  The status of current VTO-funded battery R&D projects will be discussed in this talk and associated R&D issues will be highlighted.. Current battery technology performance is far below its theoretically possible limits and near-term opportunities exist to more than double the battery pack specific energy (250 Wh/kg) and reduce the cost by more than half for lithium-ion technology by using new high-capacity cathode materials, high capacity silicon or intermetallic alloy anodes, or lithium metal battery technology. Further, VTO’s research on extreme fast charging attempts to significantly cut the time that it takes to recharge an EV battery.

Show speakers


Coffee and networking


The techno-economic potential of energy storage

4 talks Show detail Hide detail

Faraday’s challenge – Electrochemical energy storage

Professor Peter Littlewood FRS, Argonne National Laboratory, USA


In 1815 Michael Faraday visited Alessandro Volta in Italy and was presented with a gift of a voltaic pile –  the first battery, the first device to turn chemical energy into an electrical current. Armed with a controllable source of electricity, Faraday embarked on a series of experiments that led to the electrical dynamo and the electrical motor. His practical inventions were seized upon by Maxwell to construct the theory of electromagnetism, which itself has been the foundation of most of modern physics and technology. 

However, the availability of cheap fossil fuels and the challenges of building low cost electrical storage systems gave combustion engines a century of dominance that is only now coming to an end. Battery manufacturers have announced a 6-fold increase in capacity by 2025, predominantly for electric vehicles, but also for the electricity grid. As this science-driven technology matures, the impact of cheap, clean, efficient, mobile power will echo throughout the economy. 

Despite its venerable history, electrochemical technology is still immature. Electrochemistry must manipulate materials and chemical reactions on the nanoscale, yet its products are manufactured by the ton. A battery is a complex device with multiple components that is more complex than an integrated circuit, but has to be produced on scales vastly larger than a silicon fab. The fundamental components of a battery – anode, cathode, electrolyte, control system – can be chosen from a vast palette of chemistries, but the complicated interplay that makes a functioning device will emerge only after the pieces are joined together at a point very distant from the fundamental invention. 

To accelerate the transition to an electrically powered sustainable economy will require mission-driven, multi-disciplinary research at scale, which is focussed on very specific major challenges, and in seamlessly translating breakthroughs into innovation and commercialisation.

Show speakers

Symbiotic systems for renewable energy generation and storage

Professor Alexander Slocum, Pappalardo Professor of Mechanical Engineering, Massachusetts Institute of Technology


By collocating machines and support systems, system inputs and outputs can be shared with the potential to reduce overall system cost thereby helping to enable adoption of environmentally friendly systems.  In particular, the oceans represent a vast resource (and challenge) for humanity:  Offshore wind turbines can harvest wind energy, and their base structures can also serve as platforms for aquaculture systems, systems to harvest scarce minerals from seawater, and wave energy systems.  Excess power from solar PV and wind turbines can feed pumped storage hydropower systems collocated with reverse osmosis plants located near the ocean to provide all the power and fresh water for many coastal regions such as Eilat/Aqaba, eastern UAE, European coastlines, Lima, Los Angeles, Morocco, and northern Iran (including Tehran) for example.  And last but not least, automobiles represent a vast distributed energy storage network that could work in concert with the above and as such provide further motivation to move to an all electric fleet.

Show speakers

Chemical energy storage

Professor Ian Metcalfe, Professor of Chemical Engineering, Newcastle University


We will begin by defining what chemical energy storage is and how does it differs from other forms of energy storage.  We will look at the thermodynamics of chemical energy storage, including chemical heat pumps, and the selection of suitable chemical processes for a range of applications.  The concept of exergy will be introduced and the importance of thermodynamic reversibility discussed.  We will look at overall chemical energy storage processes and show how it is important to look at material and energy balances in order to gain insight.  We will study the example of methanol production from combustion flue gas as a case study.  The importance of handling, distribution and energy densities of chemical energy storage media will be emphasised.  Optimal strategies for energy integration using tools such as pinch technology will be discussed.

Show speakers

Thermal energy storage technologies in a sustainable UK energy future

Dr Christos Markides, Reader in Clean Energy Processes, Imperial College London


The empirical evidence from recent trends and decisions in the UK suggests that renewables, and (possibly) nuclear, will play an important role in delivering the national vision for a sustainable, decarbonised and secure energy system. The transition towards such a system will be associated with increased levels of generation intermittency and can benefit from increased generation flexibility and demand response. In both cases, this can be enabled by a higher penetration of energy storage technologies. Thermal energy storage can be used to store both heat (directly) and electricity (by including conversion processes), and can be employed across scales and in both distributed and centralised applications. Following an overview of thermal-energy storage options, this talk will delve briefly into interesting details of their implementation in a selection of diverse applications, ranging from small-scale distributed thermal-energy storage in homes, buildings and district heating/cooling networks, to large-scale renewable-electricity storage as well as thermal-energy storage as a means of increasing the flexibility of power stations. Arising opportunities and challenges will be highlighted.

Show speakers


Lunch and networking


The development and deployment of energy storage

4 talks Show detail Hide detail

Lab to market

Dr Jeffrey Chamberlain, CEO, Volta Energy Technologies

Show speakers

Energy policy research

Professor Laura Diaz Anadon, Professor of Climate Change Policy, University of Cambridge


Accelerating the development and deployment of energy technologies is a pressing challenge from environmental, economic and security perspectives.  Technologies that facilitate reliable and affordable stationary and mobile energy storage have been identified as important components of our future energy system. This talk will first outline the crucial role of public policy fostering innovation in energy technologies, and in particular in energy storage. It will then present research on the role of public funding for R&D energy storage has as part of a portfolio of funding for energy technologies. Finally, the talk will describe what we know about the effectiveness of various types of national-level energy R&D policies involving the private sector. While much of the international academic and policy conversation on energy innovation in the wake of the 2015 COP-21 Paris Agreement has focused on the size of public investments in energy, this talk will conclude with thoughts about ‘how.’

Show speakers

Battery storage in the GB power market

Dr Ben Irons, Executive Director, Aurora Energy Research

Show speakers

Energy markets regulation

Chris Brown, Head of Core and Emerging Policy, Energy Systems, Ofgem

Show speakers


Panel discussion


Closing remarks

1 talk Show detail Hide detail

Professor Peter Bruce FRS, University of Oxford, UK

Show speakers


Drinks reception and networking

Event downloads

Related events

Energy storage: automotive and grids This conference aims to bring together national and international leaders in energy storage systems and is intended for participants from across academia, industry and government. The Royal Society, London 6-9 Carlton House Terrace London SW1Y 5AG UK
Was this page useful?
Thank you for your feedback
Thank you for your feedback. Please help us improve this page by taking our short survey.