5MWh energy storage system at Rise Carr substation in Darlington [Credit: NEC]

Support for renewables in smart grid trial

Six advanced energy storage systems have been installed at sites in northern England as part of a three-year smart grid project.

NEC Energy Solutions (formerly A123 Energy Solutions) has completed commissioning the GSS (Grid Storage Solution) units for Northern Powergrid. In total, they have nearly 2.9MW of power and 5.7MWh of energy storage capacity, and were installed at substations in both urban and rural locations as part of the Customer-Led Network Revolution (CLNR) project, which is part-funded through Ofgem’s Low Carbon Networks Fund.

The largest installation, a 2.5MW, 5MWh GSS, is located in an urban industrial area in Darlington, while one of the smallest is a 50kW unit in a residential area in Wooler, a small town in Northumberland.

“Part of the challenge of installing energy storage in these areas was the wide diversity in the various sites,” said Ian Lloyd, CLNR technology manager at Northern Powergrid. “We needed battery systems that could fit into a range of electricity distribution substations, so it was important to have a very flexible battery design to accommodate our very different locations.”

Energy storage is a key component of the CLNR project, and will be used to help integrate more solar and wind energy into Britain’s electricity network, as well as supporting other low-carbon technologies.

To fit the needs of the project at four of the six sites, NEC Energy Solutions supplied lithium-ion-based grid battery systems packaged in a variety of enclosures including standard 40ft containers and smaller customised enclosures. The last two locations required energy storage systems installed directly into existing buildings.

“This project enables distribution network operators to implement new technologies designed to increase energy efficiency and support the adoption of clean energy, which represents an excellent opportunity to showcase the flexibility of our products,” said Bud Collins, CEO of NEC Energy Solutions.

“Our versatile battery energy storage solutions have the proven ability to deliver multiple high-value grid services such as frequency response, operating reserves and many others, and we look forward to demonstrating how advanced lithium-ion battery energy storage can help enable a new, low-carbon energy future in the UK.”

NEC Corporation recently acquired A123 Energy Solutions, the grid energy storage business of A123 Systems, in a $100m (£60m) deal that was finalised this May. A123 is now focusing on the transport market, especially micro-hybrids, but it has retained its cell-manufacturing plants in the USA and China and will become a key cell supplier to NEC.

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