Energy storage solutions set for trials at Harwell

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AMTE Power, Brill Power and Starke Energy are to demonstrate new energy storage solutions at a commercial-scale testbed at Harwell Campus in Oxfordshire.

energy storage
Solar array at South Car Park, Harwell Campus, the site of the testbed

Three new technologies will be proved at a battery energy storage system to be integrated with the Science and Engineering Facilities Council’s (STFC) solar array at Harwell Science and Innovation Campus.

AMTE's sodium-ion battery module will be demonstrated using Brill Power’s battery intelligence technology and Stark Energy's energy management system, which links stored energy into the electricity grid. This is the first time that these technologies are being deployed in a commercially relevant project.

“STFC is delighted to host and support the project via site access, installation, operational access and maintenance,” said Emma Southwell-Sander from STFC and manager of the EnergyTec Cluster at Harwell Campus. “This is a prime example of how, through the Net Zero Living Laboratory, Harwell’s EnergyTec cluster is facilitating access to young innovative businesses to a wealth of resources to supercharge their route to market.”

Energy storage installations globally are expected to reach 1,028GWh by the end of 2030, and in the UK energy storage projects that have planning approved will reach a cumulative 10.5GW capacity. Seen as critical to support the growing demand for renewable solar and wind-led energy, energy storage will reduce peak power loads on the grid, which will be increasingly important as electric vehicles become mainstream.

The energy storage system at Harwell is expected to operational from March 2022 and will run for a minimum of 12 months.

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As a benchmark, AMTE Power will deploy lithium-ion cells before switching to use the company’s Ultra Safe sodium-ion cell technology in the second demonstration phase.

Sodium-ion batteries are said to offer an alternative to lithium-ion in markets where cost is more important than weight or performance. particularly energy storage, network resilience and energy in remote locations. The commercialisation of sodium-ion technology lags behind Li-ion but offers significant advantages that makes it suited as a solution for static energy storage applications; it uses earth-abundant elements, has long cycle life and inherent safety advantages.

Brill Power’s battery intelligence technology will be deployed to ensure optimal battery usage, lifetime, performance, and safety. Real-world data and operating parameters will be collected, which will support optimisation of the technologies deployed in the demonstrator. Brill Power launched its first battery management system (BMS) product in 2021, which is supported by its proprietary battery monitoring and analytics software platform.

“Brill Power’s battery intelligence technology can improve all aspects of advanced battery systems, including performance, cost of ownership, reliability and safety,” said Brill Power’s CEO and Co-founder Christoph Birkl. “This testbed will enable us to integrate our technology with other cutting-edge battery innovations and collect real-world data on a commercially relevant site”.

Starke Energy’s energy management system will integrate the battery system with the local energy network at Harwell. Using AI, the system learns how much energy is being produced by renewable sources, and how much is being used to optimise the storage and release of energy across a network of connected intelligent batteries.

The project is part of the Interreg North-West Europe STEPS programme that in its first phase is supporting 40 businesses through a competitive product enhancement voucher programme valued at €12.5k each. AMTE, Brill and Starke were all awarded first phase vouchers in March 2021.