A trial of the largest battery in Europe, which proponents hope will transform the UK electricity grid and boost renewable energy is due to start in Leighton Buzzard, Bedfordshire.
The trial of cutting-edge energy storage technology will test new methods of capturing electricity for release over long periods, evening out the bumps and troughs of supply and demand that plague the electricity grid. Finding ways of storing power from wind and solar generation is key to maintaining a constant source of energy.
But storage technology has been difficult to translate from small devices such as batteries and laptops to the enormous scale needed to balance demand and supply on the national grid.
At the electricity substation serving Leighton Buzzard, three companies are hoping to deploy one of the biggest batteries ever constructed, using lithium manganese technology. The £18.7m project will form the centrepiece of a trial of energy storage that could have far-reaching implications for the renewables sector. The three companies – S&C Electric Europe, Samsung SDI and Younicos – have gained £13.2m backing from the UK taxpayer for their 6 megawatt capacity battery installation, which will absorb and release energy to meet the demands of the grid. The first results are not expected until 2016.