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Battery energy storage projects to smash UK EFR record

Fri, 09/02/2016 - 12:13 -- Paul Crompton

A total of 201MW of Enhanced Frequency Response will be deployed in the UK following a tender process by UK-based electricity company National Grid.

Eight projects totaling £65.95m (with an average price of £9.44/MW of EFR/h) will be deployed to maintain the grid frequency at 50Hz as increased renewable energy comes on stream.

The projects will use battery technology to enable grid operators to slash the time frequency response is delivered by nine seconds to under a second.

The largest single project will be EDF Energy Renewables £12 million ($15.7 million) 49MW project at its West Burton natural-gas-fired power plant. However, EDF doesn’t know what chemistry the battery will be yet.

To date the biggest battery-based frequency regulation project was a 6MW lithium-ion battery in Leighton Buzzard, UK.

The first project is scheduled to begin in November 2017, with the final one due to start in March 2018.

Each contract is for a four-year term, something that has caused some concern, according to a survey by SmartestEnergy.

The limited time frame and restricted revenue streams left many firms worried about the profitability of potential projects, claimed SmartestEnergy.

Firms expect a project’s payback to be within 5-10 years, with some thinking it may take longer.

Of the eight tenders, UK-based renewable energy project operator Low Carbon Storage Investment will run two projects worth a combined £15.35 million ($20.1 million): a 10MW and a 40MW system.

Other winners included: Element Power with a £10.1 million ($13.2 million), 25MW project; Vattenfall won a £5.75 million ($7.5 million) tender for a 22MW lithium-ion project at the Welsh Pen y Cymoedd wind farm;

Renewable Energy Systems with a £4.2 million ($5.5 million), 10MW project; E.ON UK won a £3.89 million ($5.1 million) tender for a 10MW battery at its Blackburn Meadow combined heat and power plant.

Belectric, which uses its lead-acid Energy Buffer Unit (EBU), was successful with its £14.65 million ($19.2 million), 10MW project.

Bids were received from 37 providers, the majority of which were from battery assets. Of the 64 unique sites taking part, 61 were for battery assets, two from demand reduction and one from thermal generation.

Speaking on Radio 4 National Grid’s executive director Nicola Shaw said innovations in technology will reduce the need to build new power stations.

Ms Shaw told BBC News: "We are at a moment of real change in the energy industry. From an historic perspective we created energy in big generating organisations that sent power to houses and their businesses.

"Now we are producing energy in those places - mostly with solar power."