Tesla megapack batteries were used to help balance supply and demand in Britain’s electricity market for the first time last week, following the successful roll-out of a new IT interface.
Britain’s Electricity System Operator (ESO) went live with a new application programming interface (API) on Thursday that allows “non-traditional participants” to access the national grid’s balancing mechanism (BM) market.
As the ESO noted here, the new platform marks an innovative (and cheap and easy) way of opening the balancing market to a wider range of providers and technologies, bring better value for consumers, and pave the way to a zero carbon grid by 2025.
It follows last year’s lowering of the minimum threshold for taking part in the BM from 100MW to 1MW, to enable entry for smaller and aggregated units in regional networks.
“Market participants can develop their own API solutions to interface with the ESO’s new API, with the ESO providing a secure development and testing environment, and certification on completion,” the grid operator said.
The first to take up the offer was the 7.5MW Holes Bay energy storage plant in Dorset in southwest England, which is made of six Tesla’s grid-scale megapack batteries and operated by Fotowatio Renewable Ventures BV and Harmony Energy Ltd.
The project, which uses six Tesla Megapacks for a total of 15MWh of storage, was deployed in July and on Thursday used Tesla’s trading and control platform Autobidder to manage first-time BM access.
As RenewEconomy has reported, Tesla unveiled its“megapack” battery in July of 2019 – a 1.5MW/3MWh unit designed to target the booming utility-scale energy storage market and, in particular, offer a sustainable alternative to gas “peaking” power plants.
The more energy-dense units also promise to make the installation of gigawatt-scale “power plants” four times faster than a fossil fuel plant, building on the company’s already impressive reputation for building the 100MW/129MWh Hornsdale Power Reserve in South Australia In just 100 days. That installation has now been expanded to 150MW/194MWh, but using Tesla Powerpacks.
A 100MW/400MWh big battery designed to replace a natural gas peaker plant in southern California had looked likely to become the world’s first large-scale Tesla Megapack energy storage system after Tesla was awarded the EPC contract for the project in May.
But the smaller UK Holes Bay energy storage system – one of the largest in the south of the UK – beat it to the punch, as well as being the first in the UK to use Telsa’s Megapack technology, and now the first to play in its grid services market.
“Utility-scale battery energy storage is critical to the future of the UK’s energy supply, often seen as the missing link in the UK’s renewable energy strategy, both in terms of controlling grid frequency and providing backup during periods of peak demand and supply,” Harmony Energy CEO Peter Kavanagh said in July when the project was commissioned.
“We are delighted to be working with FRV and Tesla and to be the first project to come into the GB balancing mechanism,” Kavanagh added last week.
“The API creates a new opportunity to lower costs and barriers to market participation and we are excited about the role this can play in unlocking the full power of battery storage and renewable energy in achieving a decarbonized society.”
Roisin Quinn, the head of national control and chief engineer at National Grid ESO, said the API was part of the grid’s shift away from fossil fuel generation to a cleaner, smarter and more flexible electricity system.
“Our wider access initiative is helping to drive that change. We’re pleased to see our latest developments go live this week, with Tesla using our new API to enable a new provider to access the balancing mechanism for the first time,” Quinn said.
“The API will open the market to a wider range of providers and technologies, increase competition for balancing services and bring better value for consumers – and it will take us a step closer to being able to operate the grid with zero carbon by 2025.”