The rapid growth in renewable power has prompted a new fleet of industry scale battery plants. The first of which will come online next week in Sheffield.
The facility, which is next to an existing power plant has the equivalent capacity of half a million phone batteries. E.ON have said this marks a milestone in its efforts to develop storage for electricity from wind farms, nuclear reactors and gas power stations.
In a continuing and increasing push towards green energy, the system, housed in four separate shipping containers, and is seen as crucial in transforming the UK’s energy system.
At 10MW, the Blackburn Meadows battery is one of the biggest in Britain so far, however this plant will soon become a small player as there is are much bigger plants in the pipeline. British Gas parent company Centrica, are building a 49MW facility in Barrow-in-Furness, Cumbria. The site which used to house a former power station. EDF Energy are also working on a plant of the same size at its West Burton gas power station in Nottinghamshire.
This project follows a request from the National Grid, the owner of Britain’s power transmission network. They have asked that contacts keep the electric supply and demand balanced, something that is proving an ever-increasing challenge for the grid. It is essential that the UK balances the supply and demand of electricity at a constant of 50Hz across the UK. Batteries can respond to the demand in under a second making them ideal for the task, earlier sources of backup power respond to the demand much slower, hovering around the 10 second mark.
“Using battery storage is a significant development for managing the national grid. It’s an ultra-fast way of keeping electricity supply and demand balanced.” – Leon Walker, the commercial development manager at National Grid
This new generation of batteries are also a nice earner for their owners, earning them money from the governments subsidy scheme. This is used as backup power over the winter months, known as the capacity market. The storage plants will also be able to take power off the system when supply is unexpectedly high, such as on a particularly windy or sunny day.