Giant energy storage battery installed at Sheffield biomass plant

In a claimed UK first, energy supplier E.ON has completed the installation of a 10MW energy storage system that will be used to help smooth the flow of power to and from the grid.

The 10 MW battery has been installed at the Blackburn Meadows biomass plant in Sheffield

The 10 megawatt (MW) lithium-ion battery, which is housed in four 40ft long shipping containers, has the same power as roughly 100 family cars and holds the same amount of energy as 500,000 mobile phone batteries. It has been installed at a 30MW renewable energy plant that converts recycled waste wood into electricity and produces power for around 40,000 homes.

The battery was developed in response to a tender from National Grid to deliver technologies able to respond in less than one second at times of either an over or under supply of energy to the grid.  It is expected to be the first of a fleet of similar systems that will help the grid deal more effectively with multiple, often intermittent, sources of energy.

Power supply and demand on the UK grid have to be matched closely in real-time to maintain a safe frequency so household electrical appliances function properly. Balancing the grid is becoming more challenging because the growing range of renewable generation sources make the electricity system less stable and more prone to changes in frequency.

Battery systems, such as the one installed in Sheffield, work by immediately discharging power to the network when supply drops or when demand increases or by taking power off the network if supply is greater than demand.

As well as helping to make more efficient use of renewable energy sources, the batteries will also be able to provide extra power to the network at times of peak demand as part of the Capacity Market.

Commenting on the installation, Leon Walker, Commercial Development Manager at National Grid, said: "Using battery storage is a significant development for managing the national grid. It's an ultra-fast way of keeping electricity supply and demand balanced. Over four years we estimate that this service will save the system operator around £200m. This is good news for consumers who benefit from our cost efficiencies, and paves the way for battery technology to establish itself as an important component of our energy system.”

David Topping Director of Business Heat and Power Solutions at E.ON added: “Batteries at this scale allow us to make best use of all renewable energy sources by harnessing the energy and having it ready for use whenever it’s needed – increasing the share of renewable energy on the grid while at the same time providing a secure supply for our customers.”