The United Kingdom switched on its largest battery energy storage in November 2022. The battery storage system in Pillswood, Cottingham, could power 300,000 homes for two hours (Cottingham: Europe, 2022).
The site was launched four months early to help the country cope with the possible power shortage in the winter. The Pillswood facility can store 196 MWh of energy in a single cycle.
The battery system stores renewable energy from solar farms and wind turbines and will be released at peak times. The station will also connect to Dogger Bank, where the world’s largest offshore wind farm is being built in the North Sea. Once the project is finished in 2026, it is expected to generate nearly 4 GW of power, enough for six million homes (Cottingham: Europe, 2022).
The Pillswood battery system facility was developed by a renewable firm, Harmony energy using Tesla technology. The system will apply Tesla’s AI software to match energy supply to demand and will start to operate in two stages – December 2022 and March 2023.
Peter Kavanagh, director of Harmony Energy, said:
“Battery energy storage systems are essential to unlocking the full potential of renewable energy in the UK. We hope this particular one highlights Yorkshire as a leader in green energy solutions.
“These projects are not supported by taxpayer subsidy and will play a major role in contributing to the Net Zero transition, as well as ensuring the future security of the UK’s energy supply and reduced reliance on foreign gas imports.”
Laister (2022) reports:
- That more battery energy storage systems will be built around the county.
- The battery facility in Pillwood is one of six similar projects to be delivered in 2023 that feature Tesla’s technology and a capacity to store up to 196 MWh in a single cycle.
- “Several other battery projects are emerging in the Humber region, where a concentration of offshore wind connections has emerged.”
- “Centrica, having brought Rough back into use for gas storage, is also in the process of converting a former gas-fired power station at Brigg to battery storage, while there are plans for a long-demolished Thorpe Marsh Power Station site just into South Yorkshire. Like Brigg, the former coal site benefits from high voltage grid access due to its former use.”
- The UK’s high energy prices and the projected high demands of heating this winter make the operators of electricity storage batteries rare winners. The situation should also motivate more investment in energy storage in anticipation of the threats of blackouts as winter intensifies and to cope with the energy market’s volatility.
E&T’s article “Why battery energy storage systems could be the answer to UK energy crisis” explains why investing in battery energy storage systems, or BESS in short, is necessary for the government and can leave businesses and individuals financially better off. The article says that any organisation with an annual energy bill of over £500k will be better with BESS.
Below are some excerpts from the article.
“Energy storage allows a site to take full advantage of energy arbitrage, where power is bought during off-peak hours, stored and used during peak periods. Stored energy not being utilised can also be sold back to the grid to improve return on investment. A BESS also allows for additional revenue generation by providing flexible grid balancing – a service that the National Grid pays businesses for. Both revenue-generating activities will allow most sites to see a return on their investment within six years or sooner.”
“A BESS can also overcome grid constraints, which many more sites will discover as they look to add EV charging or other high-energy equipment, and find that their site doesn’t have the connection capacity to cope.”
UK’s lack of long-term storage means it is currently wasting energy to power over one million homes. Solar generation has increased due to the rise in household orders of solar panels to cope with cooling demands from the extreme heat waves this summer. Many of these solar panels are also generating more energy than the site can use, and in this case, BESS can be the solution to store these and avoid energy waste.
The lack of storage is not only UK’s problem but in all European countries. According to the article, the European Association for the Storage of Energy recently estimated that the continent needs 600GW of energy storage by 2050 to reach its renewable-energy goals. Increasing renewables’ battery energy storage capacity can help countries achieve their net zero goals.
The IEA expects that battery energy storage will increase by around 60% to reach more than 270 GW by 2026 to support the growth of more renewable energy generation.
Although lithium-ion-based batteries are favoured to dominate the battery energy storage market, they only store energy in hours and not days. This has renewed interest in other forms of battery technology that can store energy for extended periods.
The Guardian list four long-range energy storage options which can store and provide electricity for extended periods (Ambrose, 2022):
- Gravity Storage uses the same principle as hydropower. Still, instead of water, it uses a dense mineral-rich fluid and less steep slopes for suspension but could generate the same amount of energy.
- Concentrated solar power storage. Pioneered in the Nevada desert, the new technology stores intense heat generated by renewables, heating molten salt to very high temperatures. The molten salt can maintain extremely high temperatures until a conventional steam turbine is needed to produce electricity.
- Green hydrogen. When renewables are plentiful, and when there is an oversupply of green energy in the grid, instead of renewable operators cutting off supplies, clean energy can produce green hydrogen that can be stored and used for days or months.
- Cryogenic batteries use renewable energy to chill the air to -196°C to transform it into liquid form. Liquified air is then stored in huge metal tanks for weeks until the liquid is turned back into gas used to turn a turbine and generate electricity.
The expansion of renewables and battery energy storage driven by the energy crisis and calls to transition to cleaner energy sources gives us a glimpse of what the future will look like when we have higher levels of renewables.
To overcome renewable intermittency and ensure its success, it will rely on storage capacity – loads of it and in various forms to store enough power for long durations until the wind blows and the sun shines again.
Cottingham: Europe’s biggest battery storage system switched on. (2022 November 2022). BBC. Retrieved from https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-england-humber-63707463?
Laister, D. (2022, November 22). Europe’s largest battery storage system switched on early in East Yorkshire. BusinessLive. Retrieved from https://www.business-live.co.uk/economic-development/europes-largest-battery-storage-system-25580710
Dogger Bank: Work starts on ‘world’s largest’ offshore wind farm. (2022, July 26). BBC. Retrieved from https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-england-humber-62307813
Ambrose, J. (2022, January 10). Here’s how to solve the UK energy crisis for the long term – store more power. The Guardian. Retrieved https://www.theguardian.com/business/2022/jan/10/heres-how-to-solve-the-uk-energy-crisis-for-the-long-term-store-more-power