General Electric targets giant Midlands battery storage system

General Electric (GE) is targeting a portion of the UK's growing battery storage market, after partnering with London energy firm Arenko to create one of the UK's largest fully-integrate battery storage solutions.

Arenko has invested in the American firm’s 41MW battery energy storage system, and will use advanced control technologies to provide on-demand electricity equivalent to approximately 100,000 UK homes.

GE Power’s global commercial and marketing executive for energy storage Mirko Molinari said: “Energy storage will help balance supply and demand close to real time, avoiding frequency drifts and supporting the mid-term response to grid imbalances.

“The flexibility it offers smooths the fluctuating nature of renewable energy, provides quick reserves when needed, stores excess energy generation and much more. Energy storage will enable a more efficient system for a more reliable supply of electricity to consumers.”

Based in the Midlands, the system is expected to come online later this year and will relieve pressure on the UK grid infrastructure by providing flexibility to account for fluctuations in supply and demand.

Demand for battery storage has grown as intermittent renewable generation increases its share of the energy mix. However, GE and Arenko want to develop a long-term commercial solution to consumer needs without a reliance on subsidies or policy incentives.

GE has been involved in battery storage solutions since 2010 and has launched 19 large-scale commercial projects worldwide. Arenko was set up in 2014, and the Midlands project will be the company’s first involvement with a solution of this scale.

Arenko’s chief executive Rupert Newland added: “Arenko’s new battery system will provide much needed flexibility to the UK grid, reducing waste and helping to make energy bills cheaper for households and businesses. This project is very significant in addressing the UK’s long-term energy security concerns, enabling the transition to a low carbon energy future.

“As a leading owner and operator of grid scale battery systems in the UK, we are delighted to have established this strategic alliance with GE to deliver large scale battery energy storage projects. We share the same focus and commitment to the sector and we have been very impressed by GE’s world class technology and project delivery of energy storage systems across the globe.”

Stored credit

The first few months of 2018 have provided a boon for UK energy storage solutions. The Government-backed Faraday Institution will provide £42m for energy storage research and electric vehicle (EV) battery development.

Banking firm Santander became one of the first senior debt lenders to provide financial support to the energy storage sector, backing an independent UK battery developer with a £28.5m funding investment.

One week into 2018, the UK’s biggest portfolio of utility-scale enhanced frequency response battery storage sites was completed. The 50MW portfolio spans two sites including a 40MW battery park in Glassenbury, Kent and a 10MW battery park in Cleator, Cumbria.

Matt Mace

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