UK’s first mega-battery plant opens to cope with surge in renewables

The UK’s first industrial-scale battery plant will be turned on this week in Sheffield, boasting 10MW: the equivalent power capacity of half a million phone batteries.

UK’s first mega-battery plant opens to cope with surge in renewables

Two thirds of new energy sources added to the world last year were renewable, with solar energy leading the way. The plant comes at a time when industrial battery storage is expanding in demand, as renewable sources skip ahead to become the fastest growing source for energy.

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E.ON, which runs the new facility, has said the plant will mark a “milestone” in the company’s efforts to store these growing sources of renewable energy. The Blackburn Meadows is situated beside an existing power plant, and spreads its capacity across four shipping containers.

The new plant won’t be alone in its efforts for long. As the Guardian reports, British Gas parent company, Centrica, is building a 48MW plant in Cumbria. EDF Energy, meanwhile, is developing a similar-sized facility in Nottinghamshire.

These are all being built following a request from Britain’s transmission network, National Grid, for contracts to help it keep a grip on surging supplies for wind and solar energy. Because these sources are inconsistent, batteries are needed to store surplus for (literal) cloudy days.

“This is a milestone for E.ON in the new energy world and an important recognition of the enormous potential for battery solutions in the UK,” said David Topping, director of business, heat and power solutions at E.ON.

In related news, UK-based lithium-ion battery manufacturer, Hyperdrive Innovation, announced today it has developed a new modular battery platform, slated for release in 2018.

The new battery is designed for use in both electric cars and household storage, and will be the company’s second modular system to incorporate Nissan’s lithium-ion cells. According to Hyperdrive Innovation, the compact battery packs provide 50% more energy density than the former model, and “significantly lower” costs.

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“Hyperdrive is helping major global companies to electrify and expand their product ranges, whether it is construction equipment or robots, as well [as] responding to the growing demand for stationary energy storage,” says Allan Cairns, CEO of Hyperdrive Innovation.

This news came off the back of a collaboration between Nissan and UK energy provider OVO last week. The partnership has been setup to accelerate the adoption of home battery storage in the UK and combines VNet – OVO’s intelligent energy tech – with Nissan’s xStorage Home system.

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OVO plans to launch OVO SolarStore, the company’s first battery storage, and OVO customers with solar panels on their homes will be able to buy an xStorage Home system from OVO for £4,800. They will also get £350 credit a year, with an estimated average £240 savings on their energy bill.

The announcement ties into the two companies’ intention to launch a vehicle-to-grid (V2G) service for anyone who buys the new Nissan LEAF from January 2018 which will allow customers to sell energy to the grid at peak times.

V2G technology lets electric vehicles link up with the electricity grid and will help the grid maximise the use of renewables in the energy system, alongside the new Sheffield plant. In the future, when all vehicles are due to be electric, V2G could create a “virtual power plant” of up to 200 GW – double the peak requirement on the UK grid.

And, at this year’s CEATEC in Japan, Mitsubishi Electric showcased a new wireless charger for electric cars that could be built into garages and even car parks. Cars could park over the sensor and charge their batteries, or could return the energy to the grid. 

Image: E.ON

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