UK energy storage test bed powers up

Researchers at Newcastle University have switched on a unique energy storage test bed facility which should aid the adoption and deployment of the technology across the UK.

The new facility, which has been funded by a combined £2m grant, will store energy from the local grid and test innovative new technologies such as super capacitors and long-life, high-performance batteries. 

“The energy storage test bed will help make the UK a leader in the adoption, deployment and integration of energy storage technology and establish best practice for energy distributors and industry, which is a huge part of the energy storage challenge,” said professor Phil Taylor, director of the Institute for Sustainability at Newcastle University.

“This exciting new research facility allows us to learn about energy storage generally, quantify its value more effectively and improve it by working with equipment manufacturers and other solution providers.”


A key feature of the energy storage test bed is that it can test combinations of energy storage technologies that will respond rapidly to fluctuating demand for power across the grid.

In practice, it allows research to be carried out to better understand the challenges and benefits associated with grid‐connected energy storage systems; from storage technologies through to power electronic converter designs and control techniques, and finally into the distribution network.

“There is nothing else like this anywhere in the world,” added Taylor. “This facility has the potential to make a huge contribution to the UK, both in terms of its economic benefit and impact on society.

“It enables the world’s leading innovators in energy storage technology to evaluate their own technologies and be able to see in real time not only how their technology is working, but what impact it is having on a distribution network.”

Science Central

The facility will be based at Science Central – Newcastle’s £200m project which brings together academia, the public sector, communities, business and industry to create a ‘global centre for urban innovation’.

Science Central will also soon incorporate the University’s £58m Urban Sciences Building which will house an an urban observatory and decision theatre, allowing real-time data from the city to be analysed to understand the interaction between the city’s energy, water, transport, waste and digital control systems.

The combined £2m grant for the new energy storage test bed came from the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC), Newcastle University and industrial partners Northern Powergrid and Siemens.

A significant breakthrough in the UK’s energy storage market came last week when Tesla announced it was launching energy storage packs for homes and businesses, based on the batteries used in its electric vehicles. Experts said the move was “another nail in the coffin of conventional utilities” and could “revolutionise the energy system”.

Luke Nicholls

Action inspires action. Stay ahead of the curve with sustainability and energy newsletters from edie