RES announces £1 million UK energy storage project

U.K. headquartered RES has signed an EPC contract with Western Power Distribution (WPD), the electricity distributor for the Midlands, the South West and South Wales, to build and support a 300kVA/640kWh battery energy storage system (BESS).

WPD will fund the £1 million project, which is expected to demonstrate nine different applications of energy storage on the U.K.’s grid. A spokesperson for WPD tells pv magazine the system will be ready for commissioning tests by September 2016.

"After the battery has been installed the project will involve conducting operational tests for approximately two years and subsequent analysis of the results," they explained. "WPD will be testing the various different ways in which the battery can operate to provide services to the Distribution Network Operator and income for the battery owner. The project is expected to complete in early 2018."

The system — a LiFePO4 (Lithium Iron Phosphate) 300kVA/640kWh BESS — to be supplied by China’s BYD, will be installed alongside British Solar Renewables (BSR’s) 1.5MW solar PV park at Copley Wood near Butleigh, and will be connected to WPD’s South West 11kV network. RES said it will utilise RESolve, its energy storage control and dispatch system to provide 24/7 management of the battery’s operation.

In a statement released, RES said the project is the first of its kind to explore the provision of ancillary services to a distribution network operator (DNO) from an embedded battery energy storage system. "The project is being delivered through Ofgem’s Network Innovation Allowance, and is being run in conjunction with BSR and the National Solar Centre," it continued.

The REA has welcomed the project, stating, "That the UK is poised for considerable growth in the energy storage market in 2016 demonstrates how investing in renewables can support new economic growth in innovative new industries." The association believes the energy storage market is set to take off this year.

It criticized the U.K. government, however, saying current policies were acting as a barrier to the market being able to exploit its full potential. Overall, the REA estimates that there are currently 27 major energy storage projects either planned or operational in the U.K., with "many more" planned for this year.

"Despite this," read the statement, "government policy uncertainty remains, particularly around what role of the National Infrastructure Commission will fill to assist future growth, or what actions the Department for Energy and Climate Change, Ofgem, or HM Treasury will take to ensure a clear, stable, and joined-up policy regime."

The article was amended on January 14 to include comment by WPD.