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BATTERY ENERGY STORAGE UK's largest battery energy storage facility granted consent

Author / Editor: Luke James / Johanna Erbacher

UK-based company InterGen has been given the go-ahead to deploy a new 320 MW / 640 MWh battery energy storage facility near London. The new facility will be the UK’s largest, capable of providing fast-reacting power.

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An artist’s impression of the InterGen storage facility planned for Essex, which will be the largest in the UK.
An artist’s impression of the InterGen storage facility planned for Essex, which will be the largest in the UK.
(Source: InterGen)

The UK’s Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) in the UK has given the go-ahead for InterGen to build the country’s largest battery energy storage facility to date at DP World London Gateway, a new port and logistics center on the Thames Estuary in Essex.

The £200 million project will see InterGen build a 320 MW / 640 MWh lithium-ion battery site, making it 10 times larger than the largest currently operational battery in the UK. It will also overtake the UK’s biggest active battery project to date, the 50 MW / 75 MWh Thurcroft battery storage site in South Yorkshire. InterGen currently provides around five percent of the UK’s power generating capacity.

The UK’s net zero goals

It’s projects like InterGen’s new battery energy storage facility, among other renewable energy undertakings, that will be essential in enabling the UK to meet its 2050 NetZero goals. This goal was set by the 2008 Climate Change Act where the then UK Government set the 2050 target of cutting greenhouse gas emissions by 80 percent compared to 1990 levels.

As we’ve discussed previously, however, renewable energy sources are intermittent and cannot be controlled. They only generate power when the sun shines or when the wind blows, and this doesn’t always happen when power is needed by the grid. This has led to the growth of battery energy storage systems which store renewable energy generated at times of low demand so that it can be deployed later on.

However, there’s currently no project in the UK at the same or similar scale of InterGen’s proposal. As such, if it comes to fruition, the project will represent a huge piece of the architecture that will help contribute to and support the UK’s transition to net zero.

Online by 2024

InterGen’s storage system, which the company says could be expanded to 1.3 GWh as demand rises, is expected to provide fast-reacting power and system balancing with an initial two-hour duration. “When fully charged, the battery could power up to 300,000 homes for two hours,” the company said in a press release. “However, it will mostly be used to support and stabilize existing electricity supplies.”

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The storage facility is expected to be online by 2024, with construction scheduled to begin in 2022. InterGen has remained tight-lipped, providing no additional technical or financial details about the project. However, the company has said that it’s planning a second smaller, but still relatively large, battery storage project with a capacity of 175 MW / 350 MWh near Spalding, Lincolnshire. This is subject to approval, however.

InterGen presently operates around 4 GW of total power generation assets across the UK and Australia. These include an 800 MW flexible, natural gas-fired power plant near London and a similar 810 MW facility near Liverpool.

Despite its huge size and its title as the UK’s largest facility (that is, assuming the project is completed and no larger projects are approved in the interim), it’s five times smaller than the world’s largest project currently under development—Vistra’s gigawatt-scale 1,500 MW / 6,000 MWh storage facility in the United States.

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