Harmony Energy Income Trust announced that it has brought Europe’s largest battery energy storage system (by MWh) online.
The cost of turning off UK wind farms to manage the electricity system rose from almost £300m during 2020 to over £500m in 2021. Most of this curtailment was in Scotland. The National Grid ESO pays operators of wind farms to switch off the wind turbines when necessary and then the costs are passed on to the consumers, contributing to higher bills. The UK’s installed wind capacity grew from 5.4 GW in 2010 to 25.7 GW in 2021. The increasing penetration of variable renewables such as wind will need supporting grid infrastructure, including large-scale energy storage. Recent technological advancements and price reductions in the battery storage sector mean that large scale utility scale projects are now more viable. We hope to see more of these GW/GWh scale energy storage projects taking off in the UK and other places around the world.
The good news is that the utility scale battery storage market in the UK is starting to get very exciting. Earlier this week, Harmony Energy Income Trust announced that it had brought Europe’s largest battery energy storage system (by MWh) online. The Tesla 2-hour Megapack system, installed near Hull, in the United Kingdom, has the capacity to store up to 196 MWh of electricity in a single cycle. Harmony says that this is enough electricity to power around 300,000 UK homes for two hours. The project will provide critical balancing services to the GB electricity grid network whilst also enabling the replacement of fossil fuels with renewable energy.
The site is located adjacent to National Grid’s Creyke Beck substation, which is the same connection point proposed for phases “A” and “B” of the world’s largest offshore wind farm, Dogger Bank, which is set to go live in its first phase in summer of 2023. The batteries will enable National Grid to maximize the efficiency of wind farms by reducing curtailment of wind energy due to supply/demand imbalances or network constraints. Tesla managed construction of the project, and the project will also be operated through Tesla’s algorithmic trading platform called Autobidder. As the penetration of variable renewables such as wind increases, large battery energy storage systems will be critical to unlocking the full potential of variable renewable energy systems. Harmony Energy Income Trust is planning to play a key role in this space. This Pillswood project near Hull is the first of six similar projects the Harmony Energy Income Trust intends to deliver in the coming year.
Zenobē, the EV fleet and battery storage specialist, also announced this week that it has started construction on groundbreaking battery storage projects to bring its total storage portfolio in Scotland to 1,050 MW / 2,100 MWh. The battery storage projects, which will cost £750 million in total, are being constructed at Blackhillock, Kilmarnock South, and Eccles. The Blackhillock project is 300 MW / 600 MWh, with Phase 1 (200 MW / 400 MWh) due to go live in H1 2024. Kilmarnock South is 300 MW / 600 MWh, with Phase 1 (200 MW / 400 MWh) due to go live in H2 2024, and Eccles is 400 MW / 800 MWh and due to go live in H1 2026. The protects will add new battery storage capacity that will be more than the total MWh of all grid-connected batteries operating in the UK today. Zenobē forecasts that over their period of operation (about 15 years), 13.4m tonnes of CO2 will be saved, which is equivalent to taking 490,000 diesel or petrol cars off the road for 15 years. Zenobe also says that removing 490,000 cars works out to removing all the cars in Glasgow and Edinburgh and more.
Similar to Harmony Energy Income Trust’s Pillswood project, the batteries will also help reduce curtailment of windfarms, saving customers £1 billion in total over their period of operation.
Zenobe adds, “the projects are all contracted to provide stability services to National Grid Electricity System Operator (NGESO) to improve the reliability of the UK’s increasingly renewable power system. These are the first commercial contracts in the world to use transmission connected batteries to provide short-circuit level and inertia, essential for the grid to function efficiently as fossil fuel plants phase out. Zenobē will provide 4.4GVAs of inertia, equivalent to c. 5-10% of Britain’s requirement. The batteries will also ease network constraints by importing electricity at times of peak renewable generation. These are essential services which will contribute to the lowering of consumer bills and the UK’s acceleration towards net zero.”
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