A new giant battery storage project could help the grid handle power from more renewable sources, and in the future, save us all some much needed cash on our energy bills.
The massive 10 megawatt (MW) lithium-ion battery, on the grounds of a biomass plant in Sheffield, is contained inside four 40-foot shipping containers. It’s said to hold the same amount of energy as around half a million smartphone batteries
UK energy company E.ON installed the giant battery (called the Blackburn Meadows battery, due to its location at the Blackburn Meadows biomass plant) and connected it to the National Grid. EON say the battery has the same power as around 100 family cars.
It is beleived that the Blackburn Meadows battery is one of the first of a fleet of industrial-scale battery plants, which will likely be spread throughout the UK.
We hear the National Grid, have requested new technologies to help keep the grid balanced, which is going to be a continous challenge, as more renewable sources come online – since the sun doesn’t always shine and the wind doesn’t always blow in the UK.
The large batteries are a response to the request for help made by the National Grid. As, when supply is high, the batteries can store power, and when supply drops, they can provide power.
National Grid‘s Leon Walker said recently, “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. Over four years we estimate that this service will save the system operator around £200 million.”
Last year, Greg Clark (the business secretary) announced plans for giant rechargeable battery facilities to be installed near wind and solar farms to store the energy generated when demand is low. It can then be released when demand rises.
Households and businesses will also be encouraged to switch to battery power — for example, installing batteries alongside solar panels.
Clark said battery storage would cut costs and improve reliability: “We get 14% of our electricity from intermittent sources [such as wind and solar] . . . but this intermittency does add costs.”
Chris Hewett of the Solar Trade Association said: “Installing batteries alongside solar power would reduce overall costs to the electricity system and allow the country to have cheap solar at the heart of its power system.”