UK launches Europe’s largest energy storage trial

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The UK is developing Europe’s largest energy storage project using a 6MWh to 10MWh lithium ion battery at an electricity sub-station in Bedfordshire.  The trial will investigate the viability of capturing electricity for release over longer periods of time to even out demand pressures on the network.  Finding ways of storing power from wind and solar generation is key to maintaining a constant source of energy.

The lithium manganese battery will be one of the largest constructed at a cost of over £18 million.  The three companies involved in the project, S&C Electric Europe, Samsung SDI and Younicos.  They have already secured public funding of £13.2 million for a 6MWh capacity unit with initial results expected in 2016.

Battery energy storage remains expensive but as the UK and other countries deploy increasing levels of renewable energy, the business case for other forms of storage gets better.  Even if prices remain high, some governments such as California’s are mandating storage.

If successful, the battery technology and networking knowledge that is gained has the potential to be commercialised globally.  Furthermore, academics from Imperial College London have suggested the UK could save £3 billion per year by the 2020s using large scale electricity storage.

This Bedfordshire project may be the largest one in Europe currently, but other countries have larger projects in the pipeline.  Earlier this year, Japan announced a nearly $300 million grid-level battery storage project that will provide about 60MWh to help balance solar power.  It is expected to go into operation in 2015.

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