Europe's largest battery complex consists of 3,000 individual lithium-ion batteries

Massive battery to help balance UK's renewable grid

Europe’s largest battery capable of storing 10MWh of energy has been installed in Bedfordshire as part of a two-year trial aiming to protect the UK’s power grid from renewable energy fluctuations.

Consisting of 3,000 individual lithium-ion batteries, the complex in Leighton Buzzard is operated by UK Power Networks as part of its Smarter Network Storage project.

The £18.7m smart-battery system, built for UK Power Networks by S&C Electric, Samsung SDI and Younicos, will store wind and solar energy at times of generation surplus to be used later when demand exceeds production.

"Energy storage can play a major role in balancing the grid as it solves the problem of renewable intermittency by absorbing surplus power and releasing it when needed,” explained Andrew Jones, managing director, S&C Electric Europe, at the launch event on Monday.

“This function simultaneously helps to securely balance capacity and supply and protects the grid from stress events, such as power outages.”

The project partners believe the trial will prove that energy storage could further reduce costs for power network operators as it would remove the need to invest in traditional forms of grid reinforcement including building new transformers and laying cables.

“We will be testing a wide range of different services that storage can deliver to the network, and the wider electricity system,” said UK Power Networks’ director of Strategy and Regulation and chief financial officer Ben Wilson.

“The project will allow us to explore and improve the economics of electrical energy storage and assess the potential benefits to the electricity system in a number of sustainable and flexible ways. We have also been developing a first-of-a-kind platform to help us optimise and manage a wide range of different services that the storage can provide.”

The project was awarded £13.2m from Ofgem’s Low Carbon Networks Fund, to which UK Power Networks added £4m supplemented by a further £1m by the other project partners.

Berlin-based Younicos contributed custom-built intelligent software architecture and components. By providing frequency regulation as well as load shifting, the project will stabilise the grid more effectively than traditional thermal generators, providing more space on the grid for clean but intermittent renewable energies.

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