100MW battery ‘energy superhub’ set for the West Midlands

Pictured: An artist's impression of the planned site in Sandwell. Image: Pivot Power/ Greenhouse PR

The projects are being jointly delivered by energy infrastructure provider Pivot Power and smart energy technologies firm Wärtsilä, with support from with Coventry City Council, Sandwell Council and West Midlands Combined Authority.

Collectively, the battery projects will provide 100MW/200MWh of battery storage to the electricity grid and will be able to power more than 200,000 homes for two hours. As well as powering homes, the batteries will serve the transport network. At both sites, the batteries will be used to deliver power to rapid electric vehicle (EV) charging stations.

Pivot Power is notably striving to deliver a network of ‘Energy Superhubs’ across the UK, with up to 2GW of transmission-connected battery storage. The first ‘Energy Superhub’ project is in Oxford; its battery recently came online and 38 fast and ultra-rapid EV chargers will soon be installed at the Redbridge Park & Ride facility.

While the Oxford project is part of the Government’s string of smart energy systems demonstrator schemes, first announced in 2019, the new Energy Superhub planned for the West Midlands is not. Instead, its government funding is being allocated through UK Research &  Innovation’s (UKRI) ‘Prospering from the Energy Revolution’ programme. Pivot Power has not yet disclosed the full estimated cost of the project or how this amount is being allocated; edie has requested this information.

Installation of the batteries in the West Midlands is expected to commence in the fourth quarter of 2021 for the Sandwell site and the first quarter of 2022 for the Coventry site.

Pivot Power’s chief executive Matt Allen emphasised the fact that the 2021 edition of National Grid’s Future Energy Scenarios outlines how the UK may need up to 20GW of battery energy storage capacity to meet its legally binding 2050 neet-zero target. 

Allen said: This is the next step in our nationwide rollout of Energy Superhubs which will create the low carbon infrastructure needed to support the EV and renewable energy revolution.

“As part of EDF Renewables, Pivot Power’s purpose is to accelerate a net-zero future where clean energy powers our lives.

“We are working hand in hand with local authorities to help them meet their climate and clean air pledges, so people can live and work in cleaner, more sustainable cities.”

Representatives from Coventry City Council and Sandwell Council said that the project will help in delivering their own goals on decarbonisation. Coventry is currently in the process of updating its climate strategy, which ended in 2020, with a future version that contains a net-zero target. Sandwell is targeting net-zero by 2041, with a review planned for 2030, whereby an acceleration will be considered.

“This project will combine with a raft of other green industrial revolution projects being pioneered in Coventry as we lead the way in this increasingly important sector,” Coventry City Council’s cabinet member for jobs, regeneration and climate change Cllr Jim O’Boyle said.

To Cllr O’Boyle’s point, Coventry City Council and Coventry Airport this month filed a planning application for a new Gigafactory for EV batteries. The facility is expected to be fully operational by 2025, including recycling capacity as well as manufacturing lines.

Moreover, a regional action plan was recently published by the Midlands Engine, which represents more than 300 organisations including businesses, charities and trade bodies. The action plan outlines what the UK Government’s Ten-Point Plan for green growth means on a local basis, outlining how the region could slash emissions by 36% by 2041. At the same time, the action plan stipulates, at least 196,000 jobs could be created.

Sarah George

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