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UK power firm plans world’s largest battery storage project

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Image: Wikimedia Commons

PV Magazine

Drax, a UK power company, has announced that it is seeking planning permission to continue the reinvention of its North Yorkshire coal plant by installing a 200MW battery onsite.

If approved and commissioned, the storage facility would be the biggest in the world, dwarfing the 129 MW lithium-ion battery project currently being built in Australia by Tesla and Neoen.

Drax first announced plans to convert its 2,500 acre coal-fired plant – which is the largest in the UK and one of the largest in Europe – earlier this year, and has already switched three of the six units from coal to biomass.

These new proposals would see the remaining coal capacity idled and replaced with 3.6 GW of new gas generation capacity and the 200 MW battery storage facility. Drax said that the proposal is “subject to a positive investment decision and would need to be underpinned by a 15-year capacity market contract”.

The upgrade would significantly enhance Drax’s flexible and responsive power capability, placing the English county of Yorkshire at the forefront of the global energy storage sector in the process.

“We are at the start of the planning process but, if developed, these options for gas and battery storage show how Drax could upgrade our existing infrastructure to provide capacity, stability and essential grid services, as we do with biomass,” said Drax Power CEO Andy Koss.

“This would continue to keep costs low for consumers and help to deliver the government’s commitment to remove coal from the UK grid.”

The UK government has announced that it wants to phase out coal from the British energy mix completely by 2025. Current coal production is almost zero, with solar PV alone outstripping coal’s power output in H1 of 2017.

The planning process for Drax’s ambitious proposal could take up to two years given the size and complexity of the task at hand, but the intention of one of the country’s foremost coal generators to add such vast capacities of storage is to be welcomed.

The announcement comes just a day after renewable energy developer Anesco announced that it had been granted approval to claim ROCs for the storage element of three of its large-scale solar+storage solar farms – a decision by power regulator Ofgem that could open the floodgates for massive amounts of battery storage uptake at solar farms across the country.

  

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  • Andrew Woodroffe

    Giles, you are really undermining the quality of the work behind this website by forwarding on articles about storage which, yet again, use MW as a parameter of size. 200MW for how long? One minute (this would help with FCAS)? 10 minutes? an hour? or 3 hours which would go a long way to help shifting peak solar output toward peak load? Massive difference in size and cost between 20MWh and 600MWh but the inverters would be the same size.

    I note the article is from PV Magazine – MW is fine for measuring power plant size, the size of the PV panels or inverters or transformers etc. It is that storage involves the concept of time, milliseconds for frequency response, hours for shifting solar energy to the evening. There is enough confusion out in MSM without adding to it.

    Putting in battery storage is perhaps not a bad use of a very large connection point – things to do with old coal plant, Liddell – and while we are at it, Collie, LaTrobe and Hunter Valley. Perhaps reuse the old buildings as battery factories.

    • BushAxe

      As you have stated the article is from a third party, but this info has come from the Drax media statement which is very vague. Their statement is part of a repowering project which ‘could’ see a battery up to 200MW in size, nothing more than fluff really.

      • Bristolboy

        Also worth pointing out Drax shares are traded on the London Stock Exchange and so they felt they needed to announce something to replace their closing coal capacity.

    • David leitch

      Utilities themselves mostly talk about batteries for power. It is helpful to specify duration but generally speaking from what I understand most of the systems in UK are pretty much exclusively for FCAS and are 1 hour or less.

    • Oh, good grief. How many times do we have to explain that in the early days of any battery storage project, or tender, then the MW are usually used. Once they have figured out exactly what they using it for, and how it will be configured with other assets, then they decide on the MWh. So the answer to your question is; they don’t know yet, and we can’t make it up for them, but we still think it worth reporting. sorry if you don’t.

      • Andrew Woodroffe

        Well, the article did start off with the click bait headline, World’s Largest Battery Storage project – MW, the size of the chargers and inverters do not confirm this. If people are going to make comparisons with Tesla and the SA project (100MW/125MW) or the Burbo Bank offshore windfarm (made up of 25 x 3.6MW Siemens) battery project (2MW/2MWh), then, perhaps as David says, one assumes an hour . . . .

  • trackdaze

    Make sense to replace as “these things” are very unreliable and costly.

  • Chris Drongers

    Tesla battery party at Neoen Hornsdale on 29 September. 100MW/125MWhr battery completion to be announced? Wait and see.

    More pressure on LNP RWNJ to acknowledge that coal is not the only way to stop a power grid falling over.

    But one suspects that resistance to renewables and low carbon transition is not mainly about power security. For many supporting coal is a way to put off the new world, solar is in a box with same sex marriage, maternity leave, Google selling screen time vapour to be the biggest company on the planet and the fall of European countries from economic and political dominance.

    • Joe

      I can see the Elon coming over to see Premier Jay soon to talk about SA’s big battery…it has to now be bigger than Drax’s to win the title of ‘World’s Biggest Battery’.

  • PhilH

    solar PV alone outstripping coal’s power output in H1 of 2017

    This claim is just wrong: PV produced about 6TWh in 2017H1; coal produced about 11TWh (see ref.org.uk data and UK gov’t pub’n ‘Energy Trends’).

    The link-to article makes no mention of solar power, let alone this claim, though instead erroneously claims that coal provided about 2% of the UK’s electricity in 2017H1, whereas it actually provided about 7% (see ref.org.uk data).

  • Robert Comerford

    Good to see the idea of using fossil fool sites for renewable use. The poles and wires are already there to connect to the network. Hope it goes ahead.

    • itdoesntaddup

      What renewables? 3.6GW of CCGT, and a battery. Oh, you mean the existing biomass conversions that are chewing up North American forests? Interesting that they don’t seem to be looking to build more of those, given the CO2 real budget (rather than the pretend one which allocates the CO2 to the wood supplier).

      • Catprog

        Which increases the CO2 more in the air?

        1ton of coal or 10 ton of wood that is replanted. (The key here is replanted)

        • itdoesntaddup

          For many decades the extra CO2 from the wood will remain resident in the atmosphere. By the time any appreciable portion of it has been sequestered the fate of the climate will have been determined according to IPCC projections. Meanwhile, a portion of coal sourced CO2 will also have been sequestered. Meanwhile the reality is that forests are being cut down and not replaced. We will have another firewood crisis at the present rate of progress.