Oxford and Kent to host 50MW grid-scale battery storage arrays

Pivot Power is aiming to develop 2GW of grid-scale energy storage arrays in the UK by 2030. Pictured: An artist's impression of Pivot Power's planned Southampton site

The company, which was acquired by EDF’s renewables arm last November, is aiming to develop a portfolio of 2GW of grid-scale energy storage arrays within the next decade.

The batteries will be used to facilitate rapid EV charging, both in the form of co-located EV charging points and supporting local grids to cope with increasing electricity demand as more EV infrastructure comes online.

Wärtsilä, the multinational battery manufacturer and service provider, is providing the batteries to Pivot Power and will provide services to them for ten years.

The batteries are notably fitted with advanced energy management software that uses artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning to maximise efficiencies and prolong battery life. The software responds to market signals such as energy prices and the carbon intensity of the grid mix, enabling operators to make smart decisions on when to charge and discharge.

The batteries also boast a “modular” design, meaning additional EV charging points or renewable generation assets can be connected in the future and other batteries could be easily co-located as part of an integrated system.

Wärtsilä has never supplied a grid-scale smart battery to a UK customer before but has said that the UK is a “key new market” for energy storage, in light of the Government’s decision to legislate for net-zero by 2050 last year. Given the varying outputs of renewable generation and the anticipated increase in electricity demand from sector electrification, the Committee on Climate Change (CCC) has said that energy storage and other flexible energy assets will be crucial to meeting this long-term goal.

As for Pivot Power, the battery purchases are its first in the UK since it was acquired by EDF Renewables.

Prior to the acquisition, Pivot Power deployed a 3.7MWh battery array to Arsenal Football Club, for use at the Emirates Stadium on event days. It also partnered with long-duration energy storage technology firm RedT to deliver a grid-connected battery hybrid.

The battery being sent to Oxford will be incorporated in the city-region’s Government-backed “Superhub” project, which combines battery storage with a network of 320 ground-source heat pumps. The electricity and energy from the facility will be used to heat and power around 300 social homes.

Recharging our batteries

The news from Pivot Power comes shortly after Shell ordered a 100MW grid-storage battery to be located in Wiltshire.  

The battery will be completed later this year and used to store wind-generated energy before selling it to business consumers when demand and prices are highest. Shell claims it will be the largest in Europe and crucial to the UK’s ability to meet its net-zero target and Offshore Wind Sector Deal aims.

Another big battery announcement this week came from United Utilities, which signed a deal with Zenobe energy to install a 2MW battery array at its Preston wastewater treatment plant.

United Utilities has committed to achieve carbon-neutral operations by 2030 and already utilises an AI-powered energy flexibility platform to deliver energy savings. The new battery array, slated for completion in the latter half of this year, will be the largest in the UK water sector once operational.

Sarah George

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