Batteries to provide reactive power in world-first project

Batteries will be used to provide a reactive power service as part of a landmark trial in the South East of England.

Batteries to provide reactive power in world-first project

Independent battery storage operator, Zenobe Energy, will use batteries with 10MW capacity, in its King Barn facility in Sussex to provide a reactive power service to National Grid ESO, via UK Power Networks’ distribution network.

This is part of the Power Potential project, a world-first project to enable generators on the distribution network to automatically provide reactive power services to National Grid’s transmission network.

Reactive power is used to control voltage levels, keeping them at a safe and efficient level for electricity transportation and consumption. The batteries will absorb and generate reactive power when needed, which will alleviate capacity challenges associated with increased reliance on distributed energy generation.

The Power Potential project, a landmark trial spearheaded by NG ESO and UK Power Networks, aims to create a new reactive power market for distributed energy resources (DERs) and generate additional capacity on the network. The Power Potential project could save energy consumers over £400m by 2050 and generate up to an additional 4 GW in the south east region of the UK.

Zenobe’s batteries will reduce costs for electricity operators and consumers, through avoiding costly investment in network reinforcement in the region and through using less energy to help release additional capacity on the network. Laboratory testing of Zenobe’s controller was successfully completed in 2019 with UK Power Networks, and live site testing with UK Power Networks’ control systems will be completed in March.

James Basden, founder-director at Zenobe Energy, said: “We’re proud to be partnering with National Grid ESO and UK Power Networks to deliver a reactive power service using batteries, as part of a world-first innovation project. This initiative will enable increased uptake of green energy in the region, without costly infrastructure upgrades, illustrating the vital role battery storage will continue to play in the development of a flexible and efficient electricity network that is fit for the future.”

Dr Rita Shaw, UK Power Networks Power Potential project lead, said: “Developing the Power Potential service is part of our strategy to deliver new market opportunities to our customers. With Power Potential and development of our other flexibility services, we’re leading the way in demonstrating how a Distribution System Operator can enable our future electricity system.”

Dr. Biljana Stojkovska, National Grid Electricity System Operator, Power Potential Project lead, said: “Greater levels of renewable energy mean we are finding new ways of managing the electricity system.

“Our Power Potential project, in partnership with UK Power Networks, is a world first, using different technologies such as wind, solar and Zenobe’s batteries, to help provide reactive power and manage system voltage.”




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