Europe's "biggest battery" to regulate UK renewable energy
July 30, 2013
Europe's largest battery is to undergo testing in the UK, where it will be used to store and regulate energy generated from renewable sources such as wind and solar power, The Guardian reports. The lithium manganese battery, developed by S&C; Electric Europe, Samsung SDI and Younicos, will be capable of storing up to 10 MWh of energy.
Though the Guardian reports a "6 MW capacity battery installation," this doesn't make an awful lot of sense as power, measured in watts – mega or otherwise, is a rate of energy use, which is only an indicator of battery capacity if you also know the time over which it can sustain that rate of delivery.
In an email to Gizmag, S&C;'s Steve Jones described the battery as "6 MW/10 MWh," so it sounds as if the battery will be capable of storing 10 MWh (36 gigajoules) of energy, while we're laboring under the assumption that 6 MW is its maximum possible power output. That being the case, the battery would last for an hour and 40 minutes operating at maximum demand.
Though with energy sources such as wind turbines and solar panels the word capacity is often used to mean the maximum power output, it's not a meaning that transposes well to batteries where capacity already unambiguously means the electrical charge that the battery can store, measured in amp-hours. Though we don't have that figure, the energy it can store (10 MWh) is a good proxy, since, if we knew the voltage, we could derive the one from the other. Still, energy is probably the more useful figure.
Lithium manganese oxide (LMO) batteries are a type of lithium-ion battery which trade capacity for power delivery and life. They are well suited for jobs demanding continued power delivery over extended periods, and are among the types of lithium-ion battery favored in electric vehicles.
The Guardian reports that £13.2 million (US$20.2 million) of the project's £18.7 million ($28.7 million) budget has been met by the government. Though a 10 MWh battery is a drop in the proverbial ocean when it comes to the UK's energy demand, The Guardian cites Imperial College research that claims electrical storage technology could save £3 billion every year during the 2020s.
A 10 MWh is a comparative tiddler next to the 60-MWh monster announced by the Japanese government back in April. The ¥20 billion ($200 million) project is being designed to regulate solar power from the northern island of Hokkaido. It is due to be up and running by 2015.
Gizmag is awaiting a press release from S&C; Electric Europe which we hope will shed more light on the 10-MWh battery. Results from the trial are not expected until 2016.
Update 11:40 a.m. GMT: S&C; Electric's press release adds little, if anything, to what we already know about the technology.