More than a billion people worldwide still lack access to basic electrical services. As policy makers, entrepreneurs and academics work to address a UN goal of sustainable energy for all by 2030, there is a growing interest in off-grid solutions. However, the various options – pico-solar lanterns, solar home systems, or larger solar, wind, or hybrid mini-grids – all need some form of energy storage for them to be useful. Leading experts from academia and industry are gathering in Edinburgh on May 10-11 to present research into new battery technologies that could provide the answer over the next 5-15 years. Hosted by the Smart Villages Initiative and University of Edinburgh the workshop will also highlight the social, environmental and other impacts of large scale battery deployments in developing countries in terms of their end-of-life management.
According to Dr John Holmes, Co-Leader of the Smart Villages Initiative energy storage is recognized as a crucial factor in efforts to improve access to electricity and this is spurring research and development into battery and other storage technologies, while increased manufacturing is spurring economies of scale. “In the UK, the Department for International Development has identified battery storage at the household and community scale as a new and emerging frontier technology. We will be showcasing innovation from a number of UK universities, highlighting developments in current off-grid electrical storage technologies, as well as future advances in different electrochemical storage materials, such as lithium ion materials and fuel cells, and will include a keynote address from world renowned battery scientist Professor Clare Grey from the University of Cambridge. As with other workshops we have held on energy access challenges, by bringing the researchers together with entrepreneurs and others working on the “frontline” we hope to accelerate development and adoption.”