In its continuing effort to rebrand itself as an energy company and not just another oil company, Shell has signed a power purchase agreement with the developers of what is being called “the largest battery in Europe,” even though it is located in the UK — a country that has rather rudely decided it wants nothing to do with its former colleagues on the Continent and wishes to chart its own course going forward.
According to Business Green, Shell has agreed to purchase the output of the 100 MW/100 MWh Minety power storage project in Wiltshire which is expected to be complete by the end of this year. It is comprised of two 50 MW batteries and is being developed by CNIC — China’s sovereign wealth fund — and China Huaneng Group, a utility company owned by the Chinese government.
“Projects like this will be vital for balancing the UK’s electricity demand and supply as wind and solar power play bigger roles in powering our lives,” said Shell Energy Europe vice president David Wells. “Batteries are uniquely suited to optimizing power supplies as the UK moves towards a net-zero carbon system.”
The electricity stored and traded by the Minety battery storage facility will be managed by Limejump, a UK grid technology firm acquired by Shell last year. Limejump operates the largest network of batteries in the UK, according to Business Green. Shell has also purchased German battery company sonnen and First Utility, a UK based electricity and broadband provider which it renamed Shell Energy.
According to UK energy regulator Ofgem, the typical UK household uses around 10 kilowatt-hours a day of electricity. If that is true (people in the UK seem to use that much energy just to brew tea every day), the Minety battery should provide enough electricity to power 10,000 homes for a full day. Or 40,000 homes for 6 hours. A megawatt-hour of electricity is a megawatt-hour of electricity and when it’s gone, it’s gone.
Other Storage Plans For UK Are In The Works
Last month we reported on a number of storage strategies being considered by ARPA-E. One of them is a system proposed by Highview Power that uses electricity to chill air until it turns into a liquid, which is then stored in insulated tanks. When needed, the liquid air is allowed to to turn back into a gas which is then used to power turbines to generate electricity. Highview says its technology costs half what conventional lithium-ion battery storage costs, plus it can store energy for weeks or even months at a time, something batteries cannot do.
Highview is building a 50 MW/400 MWh proof of concept facility in northern Vermont. It is also constructing a 50 MW/250 MWh facility at a decommissioned thermal energy facility in northern England. CEO Javier Cavada tells The Guardian, “More and more power plants are going to be decommissioned, and we are bringing a solution which can use the same energy infrastructure and grid connections to give a new life to these sites.”
Existing connections to the electrical grid mean lower cost since new transmission infrastructure does not have to be built. Cavada claims the Highview system will provide electricity for about £110 ($143) per MWh, making it one of the least expensive storage options available. A year ago, Bloomberg New Energy Finance reported the levelized cost of electricity using lithium-ion batteries was $187 per MWh, although prices continue to decline over time. $147 is clearly not half of $187, but when technologies compete, we all win.