Market Insight

Largest Battery Energy Storage System Unveiled in the UK

December 16, 2014

Sam Wilkinson Sam Wilkinson Associate Director, Solar & Energy Storage
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On Monday 15th December 2014, UK-based distribution network operator, UK Power Networks, turned on a large-scale battery energy storage system– a 6MW / 10MWh Li-Ion battery in Leighton Buzzard, 50 miles north of London. The two to three year pilot project aims to demonstrate the benefits that energy storage can provide to the grid..

Key Facts:

  • The energy storage project consists of a 6MW / 10MWh Li-Ion battery which is part of a 2-3 year demonstration.
  • S&C Electric, Samsung SDI and Younicos have all been involved in the £18 million project.
  • The project received a £13.2 million grant from the UK Government, £1.2 million from other businesses and academic institutions and a further £4 million of investment from UK Power Networks.
  • IHS believes that this is one of the largest battery energy storage installations in Europe, and among the largest in the world.
  • The primary function provided by the battery is to help meet demand for power in the region at peak times.
  • Source: Europe's largest battery unveiled in the UK  

IHS Analysis:

The principle function of this battery energy storage system is to help meet demand for power at peak times in the local area. It is claimed that it is particularly challenging for local utilities in this region, and as such the system will help to reduce distribution costs, with savings potentially passed on to end-users. The project is part of a pilot demonstration to assess the benefits of such storage systems and evaluate their potential contribution to the grid in the UK and beyond. It has involved a number of significant players in the energy storage industry, including S&C Electric, Samsung SDI and Younicos, all of which are likely to benefit from their involvement in this high-profile project.

IHS believes that this is the largest operational battery-based energy storage system in Europe at 6 MW / 10 MWh and it is estimated that it is sufficient to provide 6,000 homes with power for an hour during peak times. However, IHS forecasts an upsurge in large utility-scale grid-connected systems in the coming five to ten years, and larger systems are extremely likely.

Li-ion batteries from Samsung SDI have been selected for the project. The price of Li-Ion batteries has dropped by approximately 25% in the last two years. This reduction in price, combined with its high depth of discharge and long life cycle has made Li-Ion an attractive technology for energy storage systems such as this one.

Providing the system proves a viable business case, it is likely to be a catalyst for appropriate policy changes to be made in order to allow widespread deployment of large-scale battery energy storage in the UK. Currently, industry activity is limited to relatively small test and pilot installations, with very little large-scale commercial activity. Given the UK’s aggressive plans for renewable deployment, particularly the large volumes of utility-scale PV that will be completed in early 2015, and growing concerns about the UK’s generation capacity’s ability to meet demand at peak times, energy storage systems are likely to be a valuable asset to the power system, and likely to be favoured by policy in the future.

More analysis from IHS: Grid-Connected Energy Storage Report - 2014

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