BESS’ vital role in UK’s energy transition
April 26, 2022

This post contains an article published by a small cohort within PSC’s UK team including Dr. Mahmoud Elkazaz, Dr. Carlos Ferrandon-Cervantes, Raj Hirani, Jonathan Cervantes and Andrew Eviston. The group meets regularly to collaborate on topical issues of the day, shares the researching and writing effort across the team, and presents internally before publishing.

The importance of BESS solutions

Battery Energy Storage Systems (BESS) will play a key role in managing future electric grids. BloombergNEF published the results of a Battery Price Survey, which states that the price of Lithium-ion battery packs, which were above $1,200 per kWh in 2010, has fallen 89% in real terms to $132/kWh in 2021[1]. BloombergNEF predicts that prices of the BESS will fall below $100/kWh by 2030. The importance of BESS solutions at the distribution network level is focused on integrating renewable energy resources, grid management and providing flexibility services.

BESS solutions for integrating renewables

Nowadays, the use of BESS in the electrical network is rising as a central tool for enabling the effective integration of renewable energy resources and unlocking the benefits of local generation. As more intermittent renewables come online and contribute to helping meet the UK’s decarbonization goals, energy storage technologies like BESS will help ensure a stable and steady supply of energy.

BESS solutions for grid management

Most grid operators are encouraging the use of BESS to address the increasing peak demand for electrical energy and congestion in the electricity grid. BESS has several use cases and can provide separate revenue streams for the operator, including energy arbitrage, primary frequency response, short-term operating reserve (STOR) and ancillary services, black start and transmission and distribution network upgrade deferrals, i.e., using mobile BESSs connected to the primary or distribution transformers.

Following a wider adoption of BESS by residential users, more possibilities are rising to exploit the capabilities of BESSs as a whole. This is where the Virtual Power Plant (VPP) – an aggregated model of different BESS within the network that behaves as a unique and large power plant – comes into play in the distribution network. For achieving this purpose, it is important that the BESS has grid-forming capabilities, i.e., they are able to exhibit similar characteristics to that of a conventional synchronous generator, which has recently been investigated for wind turbines with promising results[2].

Net-zero with battery

“Net-zero with battery” has emerged as a popular term to describe the combination of energy-efficient renewable energy and building use to achieve a balanced energy budget over an annual cycle, i.e., a BESS combined with PV can work particularly well to smooth out the demand and generation profile. Electricity will be even more important in supporting a net-zero future, with demand potentially doubling by 2050 in the UK due to the electrification of heat and transport. This, in turn, requires more generation and additional network capacity. The cost can be reduced using intelligent controllers and BESS, e.g., in the DC-coupled BESS and PV, but this will require alignment of regulations and incentives to encourage the investment.

BESS solutions for flexibility

Currently, the total operational capacity for battery storage in the UK is 1.3GW with 130MW having been commissioned already this year[3]. Work has started on the UK’s largest battery energy storage project, the 99MW/198MWh Clay Tye site in Essex, in September 2021. This project is not the only mega-project for batteries in the UK. Clay Tye follows the successful completion of a 34MW/68MWh battery energy storage facility in West Sussex. Also, Sembcorp is planning to build a 360MW battery in Teesside. These projects are connected to the UK Power Networks’ distribution network, providing the capability to store energy and increase flexibility of the national grid[4]. Furthermore, batteries forming VPPs across the UK are actively engaging in providing ancillary services for the TSO, creating an incentive for the residential user and effectively becoming a prosumer[5]

PSC’s BESS services

PSC experts help organizations across the energy value chain with a wide range of BESS solutions, from battery sizing, dynamic modeling, setting up the control philosophy and capacity firming to finding suitable locations for balancing market purposes. Find out more about our BESS capabilities and contact us to talk about first steps.