The company will install and maintain a 640kWh battery system next to a 1.5MW solar park just south of Glastonbury in Somerset. The £1m system will help balance supply and demand between the solar park and the local grid.

The project is part of a major initiative being run by Western Power Distribution (WPD) – the electricity distributor for the Midlands, the South West and South Wales – to investigate the technical and commercial feasibility of battery energy storage combined within distributed generation installations in the UK. 

According to RES, using energy storage in this way offers huge potential to increase the efficiency and cost-effectiveness of grid operations without the need for public or Government subsidy. It also has the potential to improve access to the grid for low-carbon energy sources at the least cost to consumers.

RES already operates nine similar projects around the globe, with total energy storage capability of up to 48MWh.

Storage hunters

WPD’s innovation and low-carbon networks engineer Jenny Woodruff said: “Finding an economical way to store renewable energy will offer huge benefits to network operators and potentially enable more requests to install renewable energy generation connections to the distribution network. 

“Through a series of trials, this project aims to identify to how the benefits of storage can be shared by all stakeholders in a way that does not cause conflicts.”

Boom potential

The Renewable Energy Association (REA) welcomed the news of the project, claiming that the energy storage market is poised for rapid growth.

The REA’s CEO Dr. Nina Skorupska said: “2016 will be the year in which battery storage takes off in the UK, as we have seen the United States, Germany, and Japan, all who have moved quickly to reap the benefits of this technology – including energy security, greater renewables integration, and more green jobs.

“The cost of more efficient batteries is rapidly declining. Now the greatest barrier to growth is policy, and we look to the National Infrastructure Commission, the Department for Energy and Climate Change (DECC), and HM Treasury particularly to see the serious potential in this area, as well as in other forms of energy storage.”

Skorupska called for “more clear definitions, standardised processes, and a stable framework”.

The expansion of energy storage in the UK was one of the key trends identified by sustainability professionals for 2016 in a recent two-part edie feature.

Tesla is expected to lead the charge with the release of its domestic Powerwall battery pack in the UK in ‘early 2016’. Elon Musk’s firm also announced plans to roll out its utility-scale Powerpack system in the Republic of Ireland in 2016.

Fast friends

Around the world, energy and technology companies are also preparing themselves for this transition. Last month, E.ON and Samsung SDI – the battery arm of the technology company – signed a deal which will see the pair work together to develop ‘profitable energy storage solutions’.

“The expansion of renewables, together with customers’ demands for decentralized solutions are driving the need for flexibility across the entire energy system,” said E.ON Europe’s chief markets officer Bernhard Reutersberg. “To grow in this area, we are convinced Samsung is the right partner for us to develop a potential business model. The company is a market leader with a strong know-how and track record.”

Brad Allen

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