Battery charge to power up Britain



National grid will reveal the binning bids this week for one of the world’s biggest battery storage projects, providing back-up power to keep Britain’s lights on.

Thirty-seven companies have submitted bids for the scheme to supply 200 MW of power, mainly using utility-scale battery arrays. The winners will be announced on Friday.

The battery arrays will help to manage peaks and toughs in UK electricity production because of the nation’s increasing reliance on volatile wind and solar power. “this is a new service that is being developed to improve management of the system,” National Gird said. Bidders include America’s AES, RWE of Germany and the British company RES as well as Japanese players, according to sources familiar with the discussions.

Intermittent renewables supplied 25 per cent of electricity last year. With the closure of a string of ageing coal-fired and nuclear power stations. The UK power grid is increasing reliant on windy or sunny weather.

Two hundred megawatts is roughly equivalent to the power produced by more than a million iPhone – sized lithium-ion batteries, according to AES.

The US company is building a 100 MW battery array in Los Angeles, the biggest in the world so far. The batteries are charged up during the day using electricity generated by solar power farms in the deserts of southern California and Nevada. This is then available to satisfy peak demand in the evening when Los Angelenos return home from work and switch on their appliances and air-conditioning units.

National Grid views the four-year contract to supply 200 MW of electricity within five seconds at any time of day or night as a priority for Britain.

At present a small number of hydro-electricity stations such as Cruachan in Argyll and Dinorwig in Snowdonia provide the bulk of the nation’s back-up electricity production.

The contract will be awarded in chunks of up to 50 MW to at least four different operators.

From: Robin Pagnamenta, 22/08/2012, The Times

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