Europe’s Largest Battery Storage Project Begins Operations in UK

Said to be the largest such facility in Europe, a 6-MW/10-MWh lithium-ion battery storage project in Bedfordshire northwest of London in the U.K. officially began operations on Dec. 15.

The £18.7 million Smarter Network Storage project, a collaboration between S&C Electric Europe, Samsung SDI, and Younicos, is installed at an electric substation in the town of Leighton Buzzard. The fully automated system is intended to provide balancing support for the grid and test how battery storage can make the network more efficient, as well as improve the economics of battery storage systems and support the UK Carbon Plan.

The two-year demonstration, which runs through December 2016, is funded by £13.2 million from the Low Carbon Networks Fund, £4 million from UK Power Networks, and £1.2 million from other sources.

“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,” Ben Wilson, UK Power Networks’ director of strategy and regulation and chief financial officer, said. “We have also been developing a first-of-a-kind platform to help us optimize and manage a wide range of different services that the storage can provide.”

Battery storage projects have surged in attention recently as prices have fallen, but Europe has so far lagged behind the U.S. and Japan in commercial deployment. The region’s previous record-holder was a 5-MW/5-MWh system in Germany that went online in November. Younicos was also a partner in that facility.

The largest battery storage system in the U.S. is currently the 32-MW Laurel Mountain project in West Virginia, but plans for a number of far larger deployments are in the works, among them a 100-MW/400-MWh project AES Energy Storage is developing for Southern California Edison. Meanwhile, Japan has deployed a number of tens-of-megawatts systems in support of its rapidly expanding solar photovoltaic generation capacity.

—Thomas W. Overton, JD is a POWER associate editor (@thomas_overton, @POWERmagazine).