EDF Renewables UK has announced that is building a new 100MWh battery at its new Energy Superhub in Bedfordshire. Once built, this site could power 100,000 homes for two hours, playing a critical role in supporting the National Grid during times of high demand. Battery storage has been hailed as a critical lifeline for the UK this winter after the National Grid warned that it may have to impose three-hour planned blackouts this winter if they fail to secure enough gas and electricity supplies. This fear grew after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, which placed Europe’s energy security at risk.
Under an “unlikely worst-case scenario”, National Grid has drafted an emergency plan in the event that the UK cannot import enough energy from Europe through interconnector cables.
Now, EDF has announced that it has signed a contract with global technology company Wärtsilä to build a new transmission-connected battery storage facility in Sundon, Bedfordshire.
This site will form a part of their new Energy Superhub in the region, which is aimed at helping support the UK’s transition to a decarbonised electricity system and accelerating the country’s path to a net zero future.
Sites like these will be critical to the UK’s energy security, as the UK increasingly relies more on clean, renewable sources of energy like wind and solar, which are intermittent.
The battery will enable more renewable energy integration – storing energy when supply is abundant and discharging it when demand peaks – and increase the resilience of the electricity system.
Construction of the site will begin next spring, and once built, the battery will connect to the transmission network at National Grid’s Sundon Substation.
EDF added that they are one of three customers connecting to the substation as part of an “innovative new grid park concept launched by National Grid to cost-effectively connect more renewables.”
Speaking to Express.co.uk, Matthew Boulton, Director of Storage and Private Wire at EDF Renewables UK, said: “Battery storage is integral to creating clean, reliable and independent power systems.
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“By storing renewable energy at times when it is abundant and discharging it when it is needed most, batteries work in tandem with wind and solar to keep the lights on and ensure energy security. As we scale up homegrown renewable energy in the UK, batteries will help to avoid the risk of blackouts.”
EDF also added that it will develop a private wire network to support EV charging and the decarbonisation of transport, which will share the battery connection with the transmission network.
Doing so will allow it to deliver power to strategic locations in the local area in Sundon, providing multi-megawatt capacity for ultra-rapid charging of electric vehicles (EVs), from cars to HGVs.
EDF Renewables UK is hoping to roll out similar Energy Superhubs nationwide, which will deliver up to 2 GW of transmission-connected battery storage and high-volume power connection.
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Mr Boulton said: “A renewable energy future is only made possible with a smart, flexible energy grid. That is why we are working with local councils to accelerate the rollout of Energy Superhubs, helping to unleash the potential of renewable energy and enable local people to reap the benefits of net zero through better access to zero carbon transport.
“We know the challenge ahead of us – we need more renewable energy and energy storage to back it up. Our battery storage facility in Sundon marks a key milestone for the UK as we lay the foundation for net zero.”
Jens Norrgård, Energy Business Director, Europe, at Wärtsilä Energy, said: “This contract strengthens Wärtsilä and EDF Renewables’ partnership, and demonstrates our joint commitment to supporting the UK’s decarbonisation efforts.
“Net zero power systems can unlock significant reductions in emissions and cost, and the UK is pioneering this transition with world-leading renewable energy targets.
“Wärtsilä’s energy storage technology is an important part of the mosaic of flexible capacity needed to balance renewable energy. Alongside our other projects, Sundon is delivering on our global ambition to create clean power systems.”