Minister welcomes energy storage trial

Climate change secretary Amber Rudd has today welcomed the start of trials at the largest electricity storage facility of its type in Europe.

After testing of the giant battery – known as the Smarter Network Storage facility at Leighton Buzzard, Bedfordshire – it will now be trialled for two years by UK Power Networks, which distributes electricity in the East of England, London and the South East.

The Smarter Network Storage project has involved installing a 6MW/10MWh ‘big battery’ at one of Leighton Buzzard’s main substation sites, which is large enough to:

• Power about 6,000 homes for 1.5 hours at peak times, or
• Power about 1,100 typical UK homes for a whole day during average or low demand times, or
• Power more than 27,000 homes for an hour.

She said: “It’s great to see first-hand this innovative project – the biggest of its kind not just in the UK but across the whole of Europe.

“Cutting edge smart networks like this will both enhance UK skills and allow us to capture and store new forms of energy generation. This will help us to build a smart grid, which reduces the need for further costly investment in grid reinforcement by enabling greater integration of cleaner renewable energy sources into our existing energy network. That is why schemes like the ‘Big Battery’ are so important for our ambition to move to a low carbon economy.”

The significant knowledge and learning from the trials, which includes research and recommendations into future regulatory and market frameworks for storage, will be shared with other network operators, trade associations, the Government and regulator Ofgem.

Smarter Network Storage was awarded funding of £13.2 million from the Low Carbon Networks Fund. This was supplemented with £4 million from UK Power Networks and £1.2 million from project partners – a mix of businesses and academic institutions which are helping to deliver Smarter Network Storage.

Barry Hatton, UK Power Networks’ director of asset management, said: “Today marks the start of the two-year trail, during which we will test a wide range of different services that storage can deliver to the network, and the wider electricity system.

“The project involves a range of commercial and technical trials to explore and improve the economics of electrical energy storage, allowing storage to benefit the electricity system in a number of sustainable and flexible ways. We have also been developing a first-of-a-kind platform to help us optimise and manage a wide range of different services that the storage can provide.”