Researchers at Imperial College London have warned that utility companies face major disruption, with residential renewable power generation and battery storage becoming profitable in London by 2030.

If consumers switch to generating and storing their own renewable energy then utility firms may have to increase their prices for their remaining customers, prompting even more clients to leave.

This feedback loop has been referred to as “the utility death spiral”, the study noted.

Munich could reach the tipping point even faster than London, with New York, Santiago and Bangalore not far behind the UK capital.

‘Big problem’

Charles Donovan, Director of the Centre for Climate Finance and Investment at Imperial College Business School, said: “The UK Government has a big problem on its hands: solar and storage technologies are advancing rapidly and will bleed revenues from the utilities sector, yet we need a financially healthy industry to enable large-scale investments in smarter, more flexible electric power networks.

"The transition ahead is going to be messy.

“For example, the expensive baseload power to be generated by Hinkley Point C may not even be needed if consumers make the profitable switch to onsite solar and storage indicated by our model.”

Meanwhile Business Secretary Greg Clark has announced the consortium of UK universities that will form the Faraday Battery Institute, a new £65 million research institute responsible for building the UK’s status as a global leader in battery research and technology.

The Institute will bring together the expertise and insight from its seven founding partner universities, industry partners and other academic institutions to accelerate fundamental research to develop battery technologies. Ensuring the UK is well placed to take advantage of the future economic opportunities from emerging technology.

The universities forming the institute are University of Southampton, Imperial College London, Newcastle University, University College London, University of Cambridge, University of Oxford and University of Warwick.

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