Battery storage moving us towards a more flexible grid

The UK’s largest battery storage portfolio was unveiled as it was connected to the grid this month. The new combined 50MW installations consist of 40MW battery park in Glassenbury in Kent and a 10 MW battery park located at Cleator in Cumbria. Both sites come under the National Grid Enhanced Frequency Response (EFR) 2016 200MW auction, delivering a quarter of the auction’s capacity. This type of site can therefore support grid flexibility and fluctuations in renewable energy and low carbon electricity generation.

The sites are being developed in a joint venture with Low Carbon , a renewable energy investment company, and VPI Immingham, owner of one of the largest combined heat and power plants in Europe and part of the Vitol Group under the VLC Energy name.

The two sites will use LG Chem lithium-ion battery modules, and advanced energy management systems from NEC providing sub-second responses to surges in energy supply and demand.

Roy Bedlow, Chief Executive of Low Carbon, said: “These battery parks represent perhaps the greatest increase in UK energy storage capacity to date as part of National Grid’s EFR auction. We’re delighted to have developed these sites with our partners at VPI Immingham, and look forward to expanding VLC Energy’s storage portfolio.

“Energy storage is critical to managing the demands on the grid, ensuring consumer needs are met, and increasing our reliance on low-carbon forms of electricity generation. These sites will help us tackle climate change and help the UK realise a cleaner and more energy efficient future.”

Russell Hardy, Chairman, VPI Immingham and CEO EMEA, Vitol, said: “Batteries hold the key to the future of the power landscape, both in the UK and internationally. Ensuring grid resilience is a necessary step in the growth of renewable generation.”

Leon Walker, Quantitative Analysis Manager, at National Grid said: “Using battery storage is a significant development for managing the national grid. It’s an ultra-fast way of keeping electricity supply and demand balanced.

“Over four years we estimate that this service will save the system operator around £200m. This is good news for consumers who benefit from our cost efficiencies, and paves the way for battery technology to establish itself as an important component of our energy system.

In addition a new trial by Nissan will test the feasibility of using electric vehicles as mini power stations. It will involve 1,000 car charging points with connected cars feeding power back into the grid. The scheme will take advantage of predictable driver patterns with most driving to work in the morning, returning in the evening and parking their vehicle up most nights.

The project will work on a similar premise to smart grid with electric cars programmed to use power when it is at it least expensive while charging. This is turn can benefit renewable energy generation as there can be a surplus when the wind is blowing or the sun is shining.

Then when the vehicle is parked up for the night it can provide electricity to the grid at times of high demand, recharging when costs are low in the middle of the night.

“Allowing EVs to return energy to the power grid when parked will increase grid resilience, allow for better exploitation of renewable sources and lower the cost of ownership for EV owners. It will lead to new business opportunities and clear advantages for EV users and energy consumers,” a government spokesperson said.

Patrick Erwin, from Northern Powergrid, said: “The growth in electric vehicles will provide greater system flexibility and use of renewable energy sources. Vehicle-to-grid also offers the prospect of enabling our customers to gain income from their vehicles by selling services to the energy system.”

As the push towards electric vehicles continues demand for electricity will naturally increase. A desire to reduce our carbon emissions and move towards more substantial renewable energy generation is high on the agenda. So to marry these together and create a viable solution is an excellent idea. Should the trial go well we believe this should be rolled out to all future vehicles and charging points.

Although this alone will not solve the renewable energy / storage issue it will help and as more consumers make the switch to electric vehicles the storage capacity will increase giving the grid greater flexibility.

In the end we want all our energy demands to be met by renewable energy and schemes like this will be an important component in helping us achieve it.

 

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