Innovative battery system links solar park to the grid

A pioneering £1m battery storage system in Somerset will transfer power to the local electricity network after linking directly to a nearby 1.5MW solar park.

The project will assess the financial case for installing batteries at solar parks and the various ways this can be managed

The project will assess the financial case for installing batteries at solar parks and the various ways this can be managed

The newly-opened Copley Wood facility is said to be the first of its kind in the UK; the 640KWh containerised system was shipped in from China and uses a lithium iron phosphate battery. Funded through Ofgem’s Network Innovation Allowance, the one-year scheme sees Western Power Distribution (WPD) partner with British Solar Renewables and the National Solar Centre.

The project aims to demonstrate the technical and commercial feasibility of connecting a large battery storage facility with a local electricity network and a solar park - Higher Hill farm in Glastonbury.

“One of the challenges facing the renewables sector is storing the energy generated so that it’s available when needed," WPD’s innovation and low-carbon network engineer Jenny Woodruff said.
 
“As an industry we need to explore secure and reliable solutions which are commercially feasible and ultimately lead to improved access to the grid. Any solutions put forward must be with minimal costs to customers.”

Remote communications equipment will conduct a variety of tests to monitor how efficiently the battery operates, if its shelf life is reduced and therefore its value, and to what degree batteries have on power quality.
 
The project will also assess any seasonal variations and the financial case for installing batteries at solar parks and the various ways this can be managed. Current considerations include network operators purchasing and installing batteries themselves or contracting this out to a third party.
 
“It is fair to say we are in unchartered territory for WPD and the industry, but we should not underestimate how the outputs from this project could play a significant role in the industry as we move towards a low carbon future across the UK,” Woodruff said.

Battery power

The initiative reflects an emergent, innovative battery storage sector in the UK. It was recently reported that an £18.4m grid-scale battery system in Bedfordshire had proved the technical and commercial viability of energy storage in Britain following an extensive two-year trial.

Policy Exchange believes that energy storage, alongside other emerging technologies such as demand response, could help establish a smarter, more flexible energy system that creates savings for the UK in the tune of £8bn by 2030.

The UK has "multiple gigawatts" of energy storage capacity that is proposed or in the development pipeline. But according to the Renewable Energy Association (REA), this will fail to come to fruition without a joined-up and more supportive policy structure from Government.

The Government recently launched a smart energy consultation, which outlines the opportunity for businesses to actively balance their energy needs through storage, 

edie has rounded up some of the biggest and best energy storage projects across the globe - most of which were installed or agreed in 2016 - which are together demonstrating the vast potential that this low-carbon innovation has to offer for the green economy.

George Ogleby


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