Mega Batteries

Mega Batteries

Firstly, any word with ‘mega’ in front of it is worth finding out about…secondly, storing generated energy is still a problem.

In a previous job I researched how the military could effectively store energy generated from solar panels while on remote manoeuvres – the military does not stop at sundown. It was a while ago and there was no standout battery technology to solve this problem.

I am now also interested from a ‘distributing energy generated locally’ and use all that you generate point of view. We generate the electricity but don’t necessarily need to use it all at that the point of generation –we can of course use spare capacity to heat water for later use, charge equipment or sell it to the grid but we still have to buy it back when we need it while we are not generating – night time and on calm days. This is of course an advantage of AD, the generation of electricity via CHP is constant…but I won’t get side tracked by AD…We need a way of separating generation and use.

Aston University (along with other academic partners and industry) is doing some interesting stuff in this area (as well as other areas…EBRI…that’s for another blog…).

The project aims to test the technological and economic challenges of using large scale batteries to provide support to the grid and they have come up with the UK’s first two megawatt (MW) lithium titanate battery which has been connected to the grid and will be operational in February.

Energy generators worldwide are increasingly looking at installing large scale batteries, mainly for storing excess electricity from renewable sources, but their high capital costs and uncertainties over how they might work commercially has meant uptake of the technology is still low.

The project team believe that batteries could provide a cheap and easily automated way to store excess energy from the grid and respond quickly in times of high demand. The giant battery will form part of a new 11kV Grid Connected Energy Storage Research Demonstrator based at a primary substation in the West Midlands, which is part of the Western Power Distribution’s network.

While this is not local generation used locally it is very good step in the right direction and will hopefully lead to cheaper batteries and more efficient batteries that can also be used on smaller scale for domestic and industrial energy storage. The market is already responding to this; in December the Solar Energy Storage blog reviewed some of the existing technology. Encouragingly some manufacturers are also considering the environmental impact and using non (less?) toxic chemicals in the batteries.

For more information on the Mega-Battery project click here.

If you would like to find out more or discuss generating energy from renewable technologies, please give me a call on 01743 343403 or look at our website.

Blog post by Jane Yardley

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