The ‘big battery’, designed and run by UK Power Networks and based in Leighton Buzzard, Bedfordshire, stores energy when demand is low and releases it at peak times. The battery is the size of three tennis courts and can store enough electricity to power 6,000 homes for 1.5 hours at peak times.
The Smarter Network Storage (SNS) facility is the first grid-scale battery storage project in the UK and the only one of its kind currently operating on the energy network, says the company. potential to be both technically and commercially viable.
Suleman Alli, Director of Safety, Strategy and Support Services at UK Power Networks, said the project has delivered insight for the whole industry at a crucial moment in its evolution. “As we move towards a low carbon, decentralized, digital energy system, all eyes are on the role of storage – especially batteries – in Britain’s electricity network. We believe that grid-scale storage has a huge role to play in addressing the challenges the industry faces.”
He continued, “The trial has drawn attention to the fact that the UK’s regulatory framework needs to evolve to help exploit its full potential. For example, energy storage currently incurs a double carbon levy – both when it stores energy and when it releases it.”
The project concluded grid-scale energy storage could be commercially viable as battery costs continue to fall and revenue streams become accessible.
The recently published Government Smart Flexible Energy System consultation recognises that storage has a key role to play in the country’s future energy supply and makes reference to the issues the trial highlighted.