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Wind and solar energy account for a growing share of electricity generation in the United Kingdom. However intermittent power production from these sources is putting an increasing strain on the UK’s national grid. Only a few conventional power plants can adapt to changing requirements and operate flexibly enough to deliver grid stability.
A particular challenge is the widespread use of electrical heating systems. Mild winters mean that the heating season lasts just a few weeks a year. But the energy that’s needed puts such a strain on the grid that expensive measures for grid enhancement, such as additional power lines and transformers, become necessary.
Imperial College, a public research university in London, estimates that the installation of 2 gigawatt (GW) of battery power by the 2020s could save £3 billion annually. With increasingly fluctuating electricity generation from renewable sources, the savings rise significantly – reaching £10 billion annually – with 25 GW of installed renewable capacity. In the light of this, distribution system operator, UK Power Networks, has begun Europe’s largest storage demonstration project.
Funded in part by the “Low Carbon Networks Fund,” the aim of the “Smarter Network Storage” (SNS) project is to determine how storage technology can be used in support of cost-efficient implementation of the British government’s carbon reduction strategy (UK Carbon Plan).
Working with our partners S&C Electric and Samsung SDI, we have installed a fully automated 6 MW/10 MWh battery power plant at the Leighton Buzzard substation northwest of London. The multi-purpose SNS application helps exploring the capabilities and value in alternative revenue streams for storage.
The battery system is mainly used for supporting security of supply; this involves peak shaving to keep the overhead lines feeding the site within rated limits. At other times, it is used to provide additional services, including frequency regulation, which it can do more effectively than conventional thermal power plants.
Nicholas Heyward, Project Director, UK Power Networks
The project highlights different applications and marketing opportunities for storage, based on demand-focused usage. The savings gained by avoiding various grid expansion activities, such as additional transformers, underground cables or power lines that would otherwise be necessary, amount to £6 million.
This project also provides useful experience in the successful implementation of large storage projects, giving the industry a better understanding and more detailed basis for evaluating the commercial viability of energy storage.
estimates that the installation of 2 GW of battery power by the 2020s could save £3 billion annually
MEGAWATT STORAGE SOLUTION
Installed a fully automated battery power plant at the Leighton Buzzard substation northwest of London
The project was awarded funding by UK power regulator Ofgem, under the Low Carbon Networks (LCN) Fund
We have adapted different intelligent software components to meet the exacting requirements of the project. They ensure that the battery park automatically reacts to price signals and indicators at any time to deliver the necessary services. During periods of strong demand, the system provides additional stability to the grid. Alternatively, it helps control voltage or regulate frequency.
Our algorithms keep the units sufficiently full or empty to be able to absorb or discharge power. They also optimize the lifespan of the battery by keeping the lithium-ion cells in their “comfort zones” as much as possible.