UK's fastest battery facility launched by E.ON and Uniper

E.ON and Uniper have announced the connection of a new £4m battery facility, the fastest and one of the largest in the UK, to the grid.

The facility, developed in partnership with the Universities of Aston, Southampton and Sheffield and located at a substation in Willenhall, near Wolverhampton, is one of the three largest batteries currently operational in the UK and is the first to use Toshiba’s lithium titanate battery.

E.ON and Uniper also announced a new innovation project, which aims to look at future possibilities for large-scale energy storage and how to overcome the challenges associated with connecting such technologies to the grid.

The Toshiba battery, capable of responding to electricity demands from the National Grid in four-tenths of a second, has been chosen because it is fast to charge and discharge, has a long lifetime and is considered by many to be safer than alternatives such as lithium ion.

Professor David Stone, Director of the Willenhall Facility and the Centre for Electrical Energy Storage at the University of Sheffield, which owns and operates the facility as part of the Energy2050 initiative, believes that as the demand for energy increases in the UK, storage systems are needed to balance supply.

“The first commercial projects are coming on line, but there are still many technical issues to be explored in order to maximise the potential of these technologies and to reduce costs,” he said.

“This dedicated national research facility has been designed to offer enhanced frequency response to peaks in demand and is available to be used by other academic and industrial projects for their research and to test new technologies.”

The government has identified energy storage as a key priority, with a recent report by the National Infrastructure Commission suggesting that energy storage could contribute to innovations that could save consumers £8 billion a year by 2030 as well as securing the UK’s energy supply for generations.

Arne Hauner, Head of Innovation Economics from Uniper, added: “E.ON and Uniper will use the Willenhall battery system to provide ancillary services to the electricity network. The reason for doing this is to test the operation of a battery in a new market and to gain operational experience of a different battery storage technology compared to those which we currently operate.”

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