Pivot Power and Wärtsilä to develop 100MW/200MWh of battery storage in West Midlands to enable more renewable energy in the UK.
Part of Pivot Power’s programme to build a national network of Energy Superhubs – delivering up to 2GW of battery storage, almost 10% of UK need by 2050, and creating charging infrastructure to support the estimated 36 million electric vehicles on the road by 2040.
Wärtsilä to provide world-leading battery storage infrastructure as part of its global vision to lead the transition towards 100% clean energy.
Projects replicate Pivot Power’s Energy Superhub Oxford model to support the decarbonisation plans of local councils and communities nationwide.
19 July 2021 – UK-based Pivot Power, part of EDF Renewables, has announced a deal with Wärtsilä, the global technology company, to deliver two new grid-scale battery storage facilities in Coventry and Sandwell, to accelerate the West Midlands’ and UK-wide drive to net zero. The projects will collectively provide 100MW/200MWh of battery storage – enough to power over 200,000 homes for two hours.
This is the latest phase of Pivot Power’s nationwide rollout of Energy Superhubs, designed to deliver up to 2GW of transmission-connected battery storage and high-volume power connections to support more renewables and create the power infrastructure for mass-scale, rapid electric vehicle (EV) charging. This innovative model supports EDF group’s ambition to become Europe’s leading e-mobility energy company by 2023 and forms a key pillar of its plan to develop an additional 10GW of battery storage globally by 2035.
Once complete, the new Energy Superhubs will form part of a portfolio of Britain’s most powerful EV charging sites. Pivot Power’s first project – Energy Superhub Oxford – is nearing completion and will provide a blueprint for towns and cities across the UK to cut carbon and improve air quality. It is backed by funding from UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) and integrates rapid EV charging, battery storage, low carbon heating and smart energy management technologies to save 10,000 tonnes of CO2 every year once opened. This is the equivalent to taking over 2,000 cars off the road, increasing to 25,000 tonnes by 2032.
Wärtsilä will supply the cutting-edge battery technology for both West Midlands projects, underpinned by its world leading GEMS Digital Energy Platform, which dynamically optimises energy systems through a broad range of applications, providing critical feedback to stakeholders across asset owner, operation and trading value chains. The partnership with Pivot Power is an important part of Wärtsilä’s ambition to enable a 100% clean energy system in the UK by providing essential grid flexibility, and builds on the companies’ first two projects together in Oxford and Kent.
Battery storage is crucial to meet the Government’s 2050 net zero climate change targets, providing flexible capacity to enhance the reliability of our electricity system and cost-effectively integrate more renewable generation. Pivot Power’s network could provide almost 10% of the battery storage it is predicted the UK will need by 2050 and will help to create a smarter, more flexible grid which could save up to £40 billion.
Matt Allen, CEO of Pivot Power, said: “This is the next step in our nationwide rollout of Energy Superhubs which will create the low carbon infrastructure needed to support the EV and renewable energy revolution. As part of EDF Renewables, Pivot Power’s purpose is to accelerate a net zero future where clean energy powers our lives. We are working hand in hand with local authorities to help them meet their climate and clean air pledges, so people can live and work in cleaner, more sustainable cities.”
Andy Tang, Vice President, Energy Storage & Optimisation, Wärtsiläsaid: “The UK recently set a bold ambition to slash carbon emissions by 78% by 2035 and flexibility is the key to achieving 100% renewables and decarbonising the economy. Our energy storage systems are helping leading innovators like Pivot Power turn these ambitions into reality. The enhanced flexibility this project will provide is precisely what we need to accelerate our cost-optimal pathway to 100% clean power.”
DELIVERING NET ZERO FOR LOCAL AUTHORITIES
At both sites the battery storage systems will share their connection to the high-voltage electricity transmission network with a high-volume power connection, which will deliver large amounts of power for rapid EV charging to strategic locations in the local area, from public charging hubs to bus depots and commercial fleets. For example in Oxford it will deliver up to 10MW of power to the UK’s largest public charging hub at a Park & Ride on the outskirts of the city, with plans to expand to bus and council depots in the near future.
Rolling out charging infrastructure for electric vehicles at scale is critical to help the West Midlands meet its target to be zero carbon by 2041. Pivot Power is developing its Energy Superhubs in partnership with Coventry City Council, Sandwell Council and West Midlands development agencies, to maximise impact and deliver world-leading urban decarbonisation projects. The batteries are the first phase in their rollout, which will help ensure clean, affordable and secure electricity supplies for both Coventry and Sandwell as polluting coal and gas-fired power stations close and more clean energy is brought onto the grid.
Councillor Jim O’Boyle, Cabinet Member for Jobs, Regeneration and Climate Change at Coventry City Council, said: “Working with Pivot Power on this project is helping Coventry deliver on our climate commitments. We are leading the way in creating innovative, low carbon infrastructure to decarbonise transport and improve air quality, helping people move away from polluting vehicles to green, clean transport. This project will combine with a raft of other green industrial revolution projects being pioneered in Coventry as we lead the way in this increasingly important sector.”
Councillor Steve Melia, West Bromwich Town Lead at Sandwell Council, said: ‘Sandwell is one of the first communities to benefit from the unique infrastructure investment that this project brings. Pivot Power’s Energy Superhub will not only ensure that more of our power comes from clean, sustainable sources but will also help to power ultra-fast public EV charging hubs in the Sandwell area, supporting our strategy to reduce carbon emissions, improve air quality and create sustainable jobs and economic growth. The site is at the heart of the English motorway network. As such, there are many hotels, bus garages and service stations nearby which are ideally situated to make use of this facility.”
Rob Saunders, Challenge Director for the UKRI’s Prospering from the Energy Revolution programme, said: “UKRI’s funding aims to demonstrate approaches that can be scaled up and repeated across the UK, and Energy Superhub Oxford is an ideal illustration of how the Superhub model can help to deliver a local area’s plans for decarbonisation and clean air. We are delighted to see these announcements paving the way for further replication which can help local authorities and communities across the UK deliver a cleaner, net zero future.”
Pivot Power’s Energy Superhubs are all located alongside National Grid substations and have been selected for proximity to major road networks and urban populations. The Coventry battery storage system is located to the north east of the city, close to junction 2 of the M6 and Sandwell’s is located close to junction 7 of the M6 where the M5 and A34 meet. In consultation with both Councils, Pivot Power has undertaken a range of detailed environmental studies to ensure that no significant effects will arise from the facilities. The sites are well screened and will have minimal visibility from public viewpoints. Construction of the battery storage systems is due to commence at Sandwell in Q4 2021 and at Coventry in Q1 2022.
Pivot Power is looking to engage with councils around each of its planned sites to help support the rapid expansion of Energy Superhubs nationwide.
About Pivot Power
Pivot Power, part of EDF Renewables, creates the low carbon infrastructure needed to future-proof our electricity system, integrate more renewable energy, and provide scalable capacity for electric vehicle charging. By creating a nationwide network of Energy Superhubs – combining big batteries and high-volume power connections – we are enabling rapid electric vehicle charging on a mass scale, powered by low carbon energy sources. A map of all our proposed Energy Superhubs can be found at: www.pivot-power.co.uk
About Wärtsilä Energy
Wärtsilä Energy leads the transition towards a 100% renewable energy future. We help our customers unlock the value of the energy transition by optimising their energy systems and future-proofing their assets. Our offering comprises flexible power plants, energy management systems, and storage, as well as lifecycle services that ensure increased efficiency and guaranteed performance. Wärtsilä has delivered 72 GW of power plant capacity in 180 countries around the world. https://www.wartsila.com/energy/
Wärtsilä is a global leader in smart technologies and complete lifecycle solutions for the marine and energy markets. By emphasising sustainable innovation, total efficiency and data analytics, Wärtsilä maximises the environmental and economic performance of the vessels and power plants of its customers. In 2019, Wärtsilä’s net sales totalled EUR 5.2 billion with approximately 19,000 employees. The company has operations in over 200 locations in more than 80 countries around the world. Wärtsilä is listed on Nasdaq Helsinki. https://www.wartsila.com
About Energy Superhub Oxford
Energy Superhub Oxford (ESO) is one of three demonstrator projects part-funded by the UK government’s Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund under its “Prospering from the Energy Revolution” (PFER) programme. The PFER programme is delivering innovation in smart local energy systems. ESO – a collaboration between Pivot Power, Habitat Energy, Invinity Energy Systems, Kensa Contracting, Oxford University, and Oxford City Council – will showcase rapid electric vehicle charging, hybrid battery storage, low carbon heating, and smart energy management to improve air quality and accelerate Oxford’s zero carbon journey. www.energysuperhuboxford.org
 Assumes full 2 hour discharge of 100MW and average annual domestic consumption of 3772kWh.
The report identifies 1.1 GW of battery storage capacity currently operational compared to 0.7 GW in December 2019.
A further 0.6 GW is under construction, 8.3 GW of capacity is consented and 1.6 GW is in the planning system.
Another 4.5 GW are identified as being at an early stage of development for future submission into the planning system.
Secondary legislation came into force in December allowing local planning authorities to determine projects with a capacity of over 50 MW in England and 350 MW in Wales.
Previously these were determined by central government, making the process longer and more complex.
RenewableUK has identified 3 projects which have since been submitted for determination by local planning authorities with a capacity of 100 MW each.
RenewableUK’s director of future electricity systems Barnaby Wharton said: “We’re already seeing grid-scale batteries of 50 MW being built, providing valuable flexibility to the grid, and we expect many projects with an even larger capacity will be submitted into the planning system following the removal of the 50 MW cap.”
However, many projects need access to capital at a lower cost and more stable revenues, he said: “We’re hoping that the forthcoming update to the Smart System and Flexibility Plan will set out how the Government envisages making revenue streams for storage projects clearer.
“We also need a stable network charging regime and a long-term vision for the sector to encourage further investment by cutting-edge companies.”
Edinburgh-headquartered independent energy company InterGen has been granted consent for the UK’s largest battery energy storage project.
The project is more than ten times the size of the UK’s largest operational battery project and is set to be one of the world’s largest.
It will provide fast-reacting power and system balancing to support the ongoing growth and integration of renewable energy sources and is a significant piece of system architecture critical to the UK’s transition to Net-Zero.
InterGen, which currently supplies around 5% of the UK’s power generating capacity, has been granted consent by the UK’s Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) for a lithium-ion battery energy storage project as part of their Gateway Energy Centre development on the banks of the River Thames in Essex.
The £200 million project will have a capacity of at least 320 MW / 640 MWh, with the potential to expand to 1.3 GWh.
When fully charged, the project could power up to 300,000 homes for two hours. However, it will mostly be used to support and stabilise existing electricity supplies by providing fast-reacting power and system balancing.
The UK’s transition to Net Zero
The ongoing growth and integration of renewable energy sources, such as solar and wind, is essential in the UK’s transition to Net Zero by 2050.
However, these energy sources are intermittent, generating only when the sun shines or the wind blows which may not be when power is needed by the grid.
This has led to the significant use of battery energy storage, since these projects can store the renewable energy generated by solar and wind for deployment when the power is most needed.
The scale of the InterGen project is more than ten times the size of the UK’s largest operational battery energy storage project and is set to be one of the world’s largest, therefore representing a significant piece of system architecture critical to the UK’s transition to Net Zero.
Fluence, a Siemens-AES joint venture, is providing the battery energy storage technology based on their Gridstack system. Construction is anticipated to commence in 2022, with operation of the project anticipated by 2024.
Additionally, InterGen are looking to progress another battery energy storage project as part of their Spalding Energy Expansion development in Lincolnshire. This project will have a capacity of 175 MW / 350 MWh and has already been granted consent by BEIS.
For context, the world’s largest operational battery energy storage project is LS Power’s Californian Gateway project with a capacity of 230 MW / 230 MWh, with an expansion of 250 MW / 250MWh currently underway. Additional similar development projects are located in Australia, the USA and Saudi Arabia, with target capacities of up to 400 MW / 1.6 GWh.
Ramboll’s support to InterGen
Ramboll’s personnel have supported InterGen on both the Gateway Energy Centre and Spalding Energy Expansion developments since their inception. Since 2014, Ramboll has provided engineering and environmental consultancy services for the consents to allow for the battery energy storage elements. Ramboll’s support has been significant in the successful consenting of the projects, which have included testing of UK regulations and Government guidance for these ‘first-of-a-kind’ development projects.
The European Marine Energy Centre (EMEC) in Orkney, Scotland, is to deploy an Invinity Energy Systems flow battery at its tidal energy test site on the island of Eday to make green hydrogen.
The combination of tidal power and 1.8 megawatt-hour flow batteries will be used to power EMEC’s hydrogen production plant, demonstrating continuous hydrogen production from variable renewable generation.
Invinity’s modular flow battery system is funded by the Scottish government, through the Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE), and will be assembled at the company’s manufacturing facility in Bathgate, West Lothian.
The system will consist of eight Invinity VS3 battery modules linked together into a single system. The project is expected to go live next year.
Invinity’s vanadium flow batteries (VFBs) are a form of heavy duty, stationary energy storage which are deployed in high-utilisation, industrial applications and provide hours of continuous power, one or more times per day.
At EMEC’s site, the system will store electricity generated by tidal turbines during high power periods, and discharge it during low power periods.
This will ‘smooth’ tidal generation to create continuous, on-demand electricity to turn into hydrogen using EMEC’s 670kW hydrogen electrolyser.
This will optimise hydrogen production at the site to enable tonnes of green hydrogen generation each year, EMEC said.
Scottish Energy Minister Paul Wheelhouse said: “We are delighted to support this world-first innovative energy systems project in Orkney, with £1.8m of funding from the Scottish Government.
“The demonstration of hydrogen and systems integration with renewables will be a key part of our energy transition pathways and we look forward to watching the progress of this exciting and pioneering project, building on the strong track record of Orkney and EMEC, in particular, in demonstrating hydrogen and integrated energy systems.”
EMEC managing director Neil Kermode said: “EMEC’s core purpose is to demonstrate technologies in new and inspired ways to decarbonise our energy system.
“This is the first time that a flow battery will have been coupled with tidal energy and hydrogen production, and will support the development of the innovative energy storage solution being developed in the Interreg NWE ITEG project.
“Following a technical review looking at how to improve the efficiencies of the electrolyser we assessed that flow batteries would be the best fit for the energy system.
“As flow batteries store electrical charge in a liquid rather than a solid, they can provide industrial quantities of power for a sustained period, can deeply discharge without damaging itself, as well as stand fully charged for extended periods without losing charge.
“These are all necessary qualities to integrate battery technology with the renewable power generation and hydrogen production process.”
Invinity chief commercial officer Matt Harper said: “We are thrilled to be part of this Scottish success story, showcasing the best of clean energy technology, backed by Scottish Government, designed and assembled in West Lothian by highly qualified Scottish engineers and installed in the Orkney Islands.
“This project is truly groundbreaking. Because of their inherent variability, all renewable energy sources – including wind, solar and tidal – have difficulty providing the consistent power that industrial processes like electrolysis need to operate most effectively.
“Including energy storage in a comprehensive renewables-to-hydrogen system bridges that gap, providing a path to accelerated commercialisation of future green hydrogen projects.
“Vanadium flow batteries are the perfect partner for tidal power, continually absorbing then dispatching four or more hours of continuous power, multiple times per day, over decades of service – a duty cycle that would rapidly degrade lithium batteries.
“Invinity eagerly anticipates working with EMEC to validate both their vision, and our VFB’s unique fit, for this revolutionary application.”
HIE Orkney area manager Graeme Harrison said: “The establishment of EMEC in 2003 was a key factor in placing Orkney at the international forefront of renewable energy development, particularly in the marine sector.
Demonstration of the production/use of green hydrogen within the Orkney energy system is the latest in a series of highly innovative projects in these islands that have helped us maintain our global lead ever since.
“Investing in the growth of Scotland’s green economy has been a feature of HIE’s approach for many years and will play a vital role in our future plans to support recovery from the economic impacts of Covid-19.
“We are very proud to be able to facilitate this exciting initiative and grateful to the Scottish government for making it’s funding available.”
UK Energy Department BEIS has confirmed that large-scale energy storage projects will be exempted from the national planning regime.
The UK government will introduce secondary legislation on 14 July that will remove electricity storage, except pumped hydro, from the Nationally Significant Infrastructure Projects regime in England and Wales.
Previously, energy storage projects were treated as generation under the planning regime, which adds 18 months to project’s development time-frame and increases planning costs.
This had led many developers to limit standalone projects to 50MW and also impacted co-located generation and storage projects.
The changes will instead allow most electricity storage technologies (excluding pumped hydro) to progress through the Town and Country Planning Act, effectively slashing the permission to progress projects over 50MW, to between eight and 16 weeks.
The Electricity Storage Network (ESN) said as a result of the ruling no storage projects (except pumped hydro) will need to go through the national planning regime. ESN policy lead Madeleine Greenhalgh said: “This is a significant, positive and well-timed decision from the government; encouraging larger storage projects to come forward will add more jobs and economic benefit to the green recovery. “By recognising the smaller planning impacts of storage projects, this change will save developers time and money and encourage more ambitious storage projects, which are vital to decarbonising our electricity system.”
RenewableUK policy and regulation director Rebecca Williams said: “This scale of battery is becoming the new norm. Today’s announcement will stimulate investment in the energy system we need to reach net zero as fast and as cheaply as possible.”
Pivot Power chief executive Matt Allen said policy certainty is “vital” to moving any market forward. He added: “The UK needs gigawatts more energy storage over the coming decades to support more renewables and meet our net zero commitments. “We welcome today’s announcement from government, which will make it easier for developers like ourselves to build energy storage projects at the scale and speed required.”
Solar Trade Association (STA) chief executive Chris Hewett said: “We welcome the decision to make it easier to deploy flexible large-scale energy storage technologies in the UK, which will help to further decarbonise and improve the resilience of our energy system.” “The next steps in unlocking the potential of energy storage, and maximising the crucial role it can play in managing growing solar and wind output, are to provide greater access to flexibility markets, including the capacity market, and applying fairer network charging rules.”
STA has calculated there is currently in excess of 13.5GW of battery storage projects in the pipeline, with 1.3GW ready to build, 5.7GW with planning permission and a further 6.5GW proposed.
Vattenfall renewable development manager Jake Dunn said: “The Government’s decision to ease planning restrictions, so that more and larger energy storage can be installed is absolutely the right way to go. “The UK will never be free from fossil-fuels until electricity storage is part of our energy system, but the volumes of power we need to be able to store are huge. “However, it’s crucial that storage is co-located at solar and wind farm sites, due to the significant logistical and cost benefits that co-location offers for grid connections and land.”
Renewable Energy Agency policy head Frank Gordon added: “Whilst this is a positive development, we must remember that there are a matrix of changes that need to be made to the way our grids and energy system are managed if we are to fully decarbonise.“We welcome other recent announcements to this end, including the regulator’s proposal to increase the allowable spending by the Electricity System Operator so that they can develop their control room to fully capture the benefits of a more local and dynamic system.”
Rolls-Royce has expanded a Berlin-based electricity storage specialist which it took a majority stake in at the start of 2020.
The Derby-headquartered listed giant holds a 73.1 per cent share of the company which was formally run as Qinous GmbH.
Rolls-Royce renamed it as Rolls-Royce Solutions Berlin GmbH and has now expanded into a Microgrid Competence Centre.
Andreas Schell, chief executive of Rolls-Royce’s Power Systems Division, said: “With its solutions, our Microgrid Competence Center in Berlin is making a major contribution to decarbonizing energy systems and, with immediate effect, is now offering our customers a comprehensive solution portfolio.
“It ranges from simple storage solutions to complex microgrids that intelligently combine battery storage with renewable energies, and with diesel or gas gensets,” explained “We are convinced that microgrids are among the optimum solutions for tomorrow’s environmentally friendly, high-efficiency power supply systems.
“With Qinous, we are expanding our microgrid expertise and combining the dynamics of a start-up with the security and reliability of a large corporate group.”
Andreas Görtz, vice president of the power generation business unit, added: “Microgrids complete our product and solution line-up for distributed power generation. From battery storage and intelligent electronic control systems to diesel or gas gensets – we’re not merely a supplier of modules from the MTU product range, but rather we’re offering our customers tailor-made total solutions featuring things like solar and wind power generation.”
Cordelia Thielitz, who heads up the Microgrid Solutions business unit at Rolls-Royce, said: “Because Rolls-Royce itself develops and produces key components such as the battery storage facilities, the microgrid control system and the generator sets, we possess in-depth knowledge of their features and characteristics, thereby giving the customer a turnkey total solution that is integrated perfectly from both a technical and economic perspective.
“We’re seeing global demand for microgrids in a wide range of application areas.