Europe’s Largest Battery-Storage Project Has Been Switched On In The UK

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Trial will play major role in trying to ‘balance the grid’ to meet UK carbon targets

A battery-storage network has become operational in Bedfordshire, UK, which claims to be the largest of its kind in Europe.

Opened by the Department for Energy and Climate Change minister Amber Rudd in Leighton Buzzard today, the automated 6MW/10MWh Smarter Network Storage (SNS) project will assess the role of energy storage in supporting the UK’s Carbon Plan.

Battery£13.2m trial

The project has been built by S&C Electric Company, a US-based energy storage integration firm, and it hopes to save more than £6 million on traditional network-reinforcement methods during the trial.

“Energy storage can play a major role in balancing the grid as it solves the problem of renewable intermittency by absorbing surplus power and releasing it when needed. This function simultaneously helps to securely balance capacity and supply, and protects the grid from stress events (e.g. power outages),” said Andrew Jones, MD, S&C Electric Europe.

“The introduction of energy storage in substations like the one at Leighton Buzzard can decrease the need and cost of traditional reinforcement, such as transformers and cabling.”

The Smarter Network Storage project was awarded funding of £13.2 million ($20.6 million) by Ofgem in December 2012 under The Low Carbon Networks (LCN) Fund scheme, and will last four years, from January 2013 to December 2016.

Ben Wilson, UK Power Networks’ director of strategy and regulation, said: “The project will allow us to explore and improve the economics of electrical energy storage, and assess the potential benefits to the electricity system in a number of sustainable and flexible ways. We have also been developing a first-of-its-kind platform to help us optimise and manage a wide range of different services that the storage can provide.

“This project will have an impact not only for the local area, but also nationally and internationally,” Wilson adds. “What we learn here from this exciting and important development will be vital for similar schemes in the future.”

The UK is going to need all the energy storage it can get soon, as well, with ICT now consuming up to 10 percent of the world’s electricity.

The growing costs of running data centres to manage the increasing amount of data in the world – especially considering big data usage and an estimated 50bn connected devices by 2020 – looks set to be a major pain point for both suppliers and customers over the next decade. WIll green IT be able to save the day?

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