50 MW transmission connected battery activated in UK

By Jack Burke23 June 2021

First of 40 similar sites to be deployed

What’s being called the first grid-scale battery storage system to be directly connected to the transmission network in the UK is now online.

The Energy Superhub Oxford (ESO) project is backed by the British government and led by Pivot Power, part of EDF Renewables. The project integrates energy storage, electric vehicle (EV) charging, low carbon heating and smart energy management technologies with the aim of decarbonizing Oxford by 2040 and creating a blueprint for other towns and cities to achieve net-zero. The system is the first to go live as part of Pivot Power’s plans to deploy up to 40 similar sites throughout the UK.

Pivot Power, Wärtsilä and Habitat Energy activate 50 MW transmission-connected battery in Oxford, UK.

The 50 MW lithium-ion battery energy storage system will be directly connected to National Grid’s high-voltage transmission system at the Cowley substation on the outskirts of Oxford. It is the first part of what will be the world’s largest hybrid battery, combining lithium-ion and vanadium redox flow systems, which is due to be fully operational later this year. The energy storage system will provide essential flexibility to cost-effectively integrate more renewables, increase system resilience and future-proof the UK’s electricity network.

Pivot Power developed the battery energy storage system together with an 8 km private wire network, which will share the connection to the high-voltage transmission network and deliver large volumes of power to public and commercial EV charging locations across the city. The first of these will be the UK’s largest public charging hub at Redbridge Park & Ride, which will feature 38 fast to ultra-rapid chargers when it opens later this year, to kick start Oxford’s EV revolution.

Wärtsilä has provided battery energy storage technology, underpinned by its world GEMS Digital Energy Platform, for optimized hybrid system control. GEMS dynamically manages energy systems through a broad range of applications, providing critical feedback to stakeholders across asset owner, operation and trading value chains. The system’s design enables the delivery of different services from frequency regulation to enhanced grid resilience. In addition, it has the ability to provide back-up power to EV charging infrastructure connected to Pivot Power’s private wire network.

Habitat Energy will optimize the battery trading and revenue generation using their AI-enabled PowerIQ platform, overseen by a team based in their Oxford office. This approach is designed to combine the best opportunities available in the day-ahead market, intraday and balancing mechanism and provides ancillary services such as Dynamic Containment. They will manage and optimize the EV charging, to maximize value to the end consumer and benefit to the grid.

“This is the first grid-scale battery to directly connect to the transmission network in the UK, and represents a key milestone for the completion of Energy Superhub Oxford and our mission to accelerate the UK towards net zero. We are planning up to 40 similar sites throughout the country, totaling up to 2 GW of battery storage – forming a key pillar of EDF’s plan to develop an additional 10GW of battery storage globally by 2035,” said Matt Allen, CEO of Pivot Power.

“Wärtsilä’s ambition is to support countries around the world to transition to 100% renewables. Grid flexibility and energy storage are essential to ensure the UK can hit its ambitious net-zero targets in a cost-effective, sustainable and resilient way. Our GEMS platform enables Energy Superhub Oxford’s energy storage system to operate in a truly dynamic way, responding to the demands of the market and improving power reliability. We believe this unique collaboration is a blueprint for the use of energy storage throughout the UK and Europe,” said Pekka Tolonen, Energy Business director, Europe, Wärtsilä.

The second element of the project, the vanadium redox flow battery, supplied by UK energy storage experts Invinity Energy Systems, will come online later this year. Once operational, the University of Oxford will evaluate the performance of the hybrid battery against a digital twin. This will provide a validated performance model of large-scale storage systems which can be used to more accurately predict project returns and accelerate energy storage investment globally.

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