Using electricity storage to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.pdf (2.28 MB)

Using electricity storage to reduce greenhouse gas emissions

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journal contribution
posted on 03.12.2020, 12:18 by Andrew J Pimm, Jan Palczewski, Edward Barbour, Tim T Cockerill
While energy storage is key to increasing the penetration of variable renewables, the near-term effects of storage on greenhouse gas emissions are uncertain. Several studies have shown that storage operation can increase emissions even if the storage has 100% turnaround efficiency. Furthermore, previous studies have relied on national-level data and given very little attention to the impacts of storage on emissions at local scales. This is an important omission, as carbon intensities can vary very significantly at sub-national scales. We introduce a novel approach to calculating regional marginal emissions factors, based on a validated power system model and regression analysis. The techniques are used to investigate the impacts of storage operation on CO2 emissions in Great Britain in 2019, under a range of operating scenarios. It is found that there are significant regional differences in storage emissions factors, with storage tending to increase emissions when used for wind balancing in areas with little wind curtailment. In contrast, the greatest emissions reductions are achieved when charging storage with otherwise-curtailed renewables and discharging to reduce peak demands in areas consuming high volumes of fossil fuel power. Over all regions and operating modes studied, the difference between the highest reduction in emissions and the highest increase in emissions is considerable, at 741 gCO2 per kWh discharged. We conclude that power system regulators should pay increased attention to the impact of storage operation on system CO2 emissions.


This work has been supported by the UK Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC), through the Centre for Energy Systems Integration project ‘Using storage to decarbonise electricity consumption’, and through the University of Leeds’s Living Lab programme.



  • Mechanical, Electrical and Manufacturing Engineering

Research Unit

  • Centre for Renewable Energy Systems Technology (CREST)

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Applied Energy




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Elsevier BV


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© The Authors

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This is an Open Access Article. It is published by Elsevier under the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International Licence (CC BY 4.0). Full details of this licence are available at:

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Dr Edward Barbour. Deposit date: 2 December 2020

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