UK’s transmission-connected battery storage activated


United KingdomAs part of the £41 million Energy Superhub Oxford (ESO) project, Pivot Power, a subsidiary of EDF Renewables, Wärtsilä, and Habitat Energy activated the UK’s first grid-scale battery storage system directly connected to the transmission network.

The government-backed initiative, led by Pivot Power, blends energy storage, electric vehicle (EV) charging, low carbon heating, and smart energy management technologies to decarbonize Oxford by 2040 and provide a model for other towns and cities to attain net zero emissions. The system is the first to go live as part of Pivot Power’s aspirations to deploy up to 40 such facilities across the United Kingdom.

First stage of the world’s largest hybrid battery

At the Cowley substation on the outskirts of Oxford, the 50MW lithium-ion battery energy storage system will be directly connected to National Grid’s high-voltage transmission system. It is the first stage of the world’s largest hybrid battery, which will combine lithium-ion and vanadium redox flow systems and is expected to be completely operational later this year. The energy storage system will give critical flexibility for integrating more renewables more cost-effectively, increasing system resilience, and future-proofing the UK’s power network.

Pivot Power is creating the battery energy storage system alongside an 8km private wire network that will connect to the high-voltage transmission network and distribute substantial amounts of power to public and commercial EV charging points throughout the city. The first of them will be the UK’s largest public charging center at Redbridge Park & Ride, which will open later this year with 38 fast to ultra-rapid chargers to kickstart Oxford’s EV revolution.

Technology package

Wärtsilä has given cutting-edge battery energy storage technology for optimized hybrid system control, which is supported by its world-leading GEMS Digital Energy Platform. GEMS dynamically controls energy systems through a variety of applications, delivering important feedback to stakeholders throughout the asset owner, operation, and trade value chains. The system’s design allows for the delivery of a variety of services ranging from frequency regulation to greater grid resilience. Furthermore, it may offer backup power to EV charging infrastructure connected to Pivot Power’s own wire network.

Habitat Energy will use its AI-enabled PowerIQ platform to optimize battery trade and revenue generation, which will be overseen by a team based in their Oxford headquarters. This strategy combines the finest possibilities available in the day ahead market, intraday, and balancing mechanisms, as well as supplementary services like Dynamic Containment. They will manage and optimize EV charging in order to maximize the value to the end user and the benefit to the grid.

Predicting energy storage investment

The vanadium redox flow battery, supplied by UK energy storage experts Invinity Energy Systems, will be operational later this year. Once operational, the University of Oxford will compare the hybrid battery’s performance against that of a digital twin. This will result in a verified performance model of large-scale storage systems that can be used to more precisely anticipate project returns and expedite global energy storage investment.