If wind and solar power are cheaper and quicker, do we really need Hinkley Point?

Should Theresa May take the axe to the troubled Hinkley Point nuclear project, it will propel wind and solar power further into the limelight. And for renewable technologies to become really effective, Britain and the rest of the world need breakthroughs in electricity storage to allow intermittent power to be on tap 24/7, on a large scale and for the right price.

Cheap, light and long-life batteries are the holy grail, and achieving this requires the expertise of people like Cambridge professor Clare Grey. The award winning Royal Society fellow is working on the basic science behind lithium-air batteries, which can store five times the energy in the same space as the current rechargeable lithium-ion batteries that are widely used today.

She is also focusing on sodium-ion and redox flow batteries; the latter store power in a liquid form, contained in vats or tanks that in theory can easily be scaled up to power-grid sizes.

“There has been an amazing transformation in this field. There is an explosion of interest and I am extremely lucky to have decided early on to concentrate on this area,” she says, although she is keen to play down the idea that a eureka moment is just around the corner.

 
Read more