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Europe's "biggest battery" to regulate UK renewable energy

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July 30, 2013

The battery is designed to even out power from renewable sources such as wind (Photo: Jon ...

The battery is designed to even out power from renewable sources such as wind (Photo: Jon Smith)

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.

Sources: The Guardian, S&C Electric

About the Author
James Holloway James lives in East London where he punctuates endless tea drinking with freelance writing and meteorological angst. Unlocking Every Extend Extra Extreme’s “Master of Extreme” achievement was the fourth proudest moment of his life.   All articles by James Holloway
8 Comments

Finally! Tears of joy are flooding my keyboard as I'm writing these words. The author has not confused power and energy as too many publications all over the planet do routinely every day. I love you, James! Keep it coming!

Any photos of the beast? Wondering what a 10MWh battery looks like.

BeWalt
30th July, 2013 @ 07:46 am PDT

" Is Energy the same as Power? If not, what's the difference, and how do all of these units relate to each other?

It's really simpler than it looks. You can think of Energy as a "stuff" that can't be created or destroyed, but can be converted in form. The form might be a moving mass, light, heat, an elevated mass, particular chemical combinations, or electricity in a wire. Power is simply the rate at which energy is converted (for example, a Watt is one Joule per Second)."

http://chuck-wright.com/calculators/watts.html

Freyr Gunnar
30th July, 2013 @ 02:04 pm PDT

Full marks for getting the terminology right and even sounding a little sceptical about its use.

Quite frankly I can't see where the savings of £3 billion every year during the 2020s is going to come from. You only have to look at http://www.gridwatch.templar.co.uk/ to get a comparison of wind energy production and total demand. For example, for most of the month (July) wind has produce virtually no usable energy and it would be an exceptional battery that would do any good for that long.

The other thing that I don't see mentioned - how they convert the DC from the battery to AC for the grid unless they are going to use it to turn the blades when there is no wind instead of pulling power from the grid to do that, then it would only work for a local collection of turbines. That way there would be a very small saving to the grid but I doubt it would reach £3 million and that only if power prices double or more.

ivan4
30th July, 2013 @ 03:10 pm PDT

The one details left out is the small fact there is rarely a need for grid battery storage.

Grids have been coping with far more variable demand for 110 yrs now without a problem and that is much worse than RE variability.

What Utility is buying any? There are at least 10 different grid size batteries under $100/kwhr yet where are the installations?

Next RE isn't that variable. In fact solar PV, solar CSP, hydro, tidal, biomass are made when needed most or on demand. Please tell me what battery backup these need?

Next wind even though somewhat variable, over many spread over large areas averages out to a fairly steady flow.

Best is homes, buildings that make their own power especially at peak hrs with RE like solar, make up for the most costly other generation utilities use for peak power.

So in fact the average price utilities paid last yr was $.32/kwhr and that is what on demand RE is worth, far more than base load which can't throttle.

And last the new CC NG not only are 60% eff but stay that way throttled to 50% making any possible grid battery market to dry completely up because of it's ability to follow the load.

jerryd
31st July, 2013 @ 10:44 am PDT

This is nowhere close to being the "largest battery in Europe".

Sorry guys, Terna, the Italian TSO is about a year ahead, and 12 times larger (MW-wise, 30 times more MWh-wise).

http://www.ngk.co.jp/english/news/2013/0514.html

CarolinaT
1st August, 2013 @ 01:33 am PDT

With wind power the problem is that the wind is fickle even a steady breeze causes windmills to produce spikes and dips in current production. If the windmills compressed air using the tower as a tank and then have the compressed air drive a generator you would get built in energy storage to go with the grid ready electricity.

Slowburn
1st August, 2013 @ 01:16 pm PDT

re; ivan4

There is a device called an Inverter it turns DC into AC. In theory you could simply use a 3 position switch and pay some very quick and consistent moron to flip it back and forth at the expropriate rate. For me that would be 60 times a second. Adding transistors or Vacuum Tubes to the mix to allows one to increase the life of the switch by using much lower wattage in the switch. One could lake low wattage leads from the grid to control relays or transistors and match the grid's cycle with your feed. Or one could spin the battery so its terminals meet the wires at the appropriate rate but I would advise against it because it would take a really big turntable.

Slowburn
1st August, 2013 @ 07:21 pm PDT

Great! Add more expense to already far too expensive power.

maak
3rd August, 2013 @ 11:28 pm PDT
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