The devices have been placed on a live electricity network, across a mixture of rural and urban locations in the North East and Yorkshire, to help balance the supply and demand of electricity for thousands of residential and business properties and test the effectiveness of energy storage batteries as part of an overall smart grid solution. Three of the devices have a capacity of 100kWh, two are 200kWh and the biggest has a capacity of 5MWh, making it one of the largest currently in operation in Europe.
The trial is part of the Customer-Led Network Revolution (CLNR), a leading UK smart grid project, part funded by Ofgem's Low Carbon Networks Fund.
“What makes this trial of energy storage unique is both the size of our largest battery and the fact that, for the first time, we will be monitoring all six of the batteries and the networks they are on through an Active Network Management (ANM) control system developed for the project, called the Grand Unified Scheme (GUS),” said Ian Lloyd, Network Technology Project Manager at Northern Powergrid. “GUS allows us to view in real time when and where we need to release the 'stored' energy, as well as enabling autonomous control of the other network technologies that we are currently trialling.”
The storage devices were deliberately set at a number of different points on the network to paint a comprehensive picture of how the technology works across a range of urban and rural networks with different types of construction and with different types of customers, such as customers in off-gas rural areas that use electricity for heating. As Lloyd explains: “These locations combined offer a representative sample of 80% of the UK's total electricity distribution network and this is vitally important because it means that — with the learning we gain from these trials — we'll have real-world results that show how this technology could be deployed as an effective solution across the UK.”
The largest 5MWh device has been installed in Darlington and is helping to meet the energy demands of 14,000 different homes and businesses in and around the town. In comparison, one of the smaller batteries is supporting around 300 residential homes in Maltby, South Yorkshire, which has a high concentration and cluster of customers with solar PV technology. Another two batteries are in Darlington, with the remaining two located in rural Northumberland.
Northern Powergrid will be monitoring all six devices throughout 2014 to understand the role that energy storage technology could play as part of a range of innovative smart grid solutions that help avoid the need for network reinforcement, improve network efficiency and support the uptake of low carbon technologies.
As Lloyd explains: “Customers across these networks won't notice any changes in their energy supply, but are helping us explore new ways to tackle peak energy demand and support the widespread adoption of low carbon technologies.”
Led by Northern Powergrid, the DNO for the Northeast and Yorkshire, the project is the largest of its kind in the UK and is being completed in partnership with British Gas, Durham University, Newcastle University and EA Technology. The project is part-funded by Ofgem's Low Carbon Network (LCN) Fund, which supports projects led by UK DNOs that explore new technology, operating and commercial arrangements to provide security of supply and value for money as Britain moves towards a low carbon economy.