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Energy majors EDF, Centrica win battery optimisation contracts in UK

By Molly Lempriere, Alice Grundy
Inside one of EDF’s own UK battery storage systems, the 49MW West Burton project. Image: EDF.

The battery storage optimisation and energy trading teams at EDF and Centrica Business Solutions – stalwarts of the UK’s Big Six of utility companies – have won 40MW of new deals to optimise large-scale battery storage systems.

EDF is to optimise a 30MW utility-scale battery storage system for battery storage asset manager SWGT, across a variety of grid flexibility schemes as well as through EDF’s trading platform Powershift.

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Under a long-term agreement, EDF will ensure access to all revenue streams available, including the wholesale market and grid services such as Dynamic Containment.

The deal includes a floor price to ensure minimum income levels are guaranteed, a feature EDF lauded as an “industry first” when it first introduced it in an optimisation deal with renewable energy company and battery project developer/owner Anesco. It is now a regular part of EDF’s optimisation offering, and was also part of a deal signed with developer Zenobe Energy to optimise a 59MW portfolio earlier this year.

Adam Clarke, commercial lead at EDF, said the deal it has offered SWGT creates “an attractive revenue stream” with the floor price providing “bankable reassurance”.

EDF has increasingly been looking to cement its position in the battery storage market, having acquired battery storage and electric vehicle charging firm Pivot Power in 2019. Last month, it invested in cleantech startup Power Up, which aims to extend the lifetime and optimise the performance of lithium-ion batteries using measure, act, predict (MAP) technology.

SWGT, meanwhile, has a pipeline of 180MW, claiming to be “becoming one of the UK's largest independent battery storage asset owners, developers and operators”.

Olivia He, chief investment officer at SWGT, said the project is “testimony to the resilience of the energy transition fuelled by innovation and a strong appetite for renewable energy from investors”.

A few days earlier, Centrica Business Solutions, energy solutions division of UK energy major Centrica – which owns British Gas in its portfolio – signed an optimisation deal for a 10MW battery storage system with sustainable infrastructure project developer EelPower.

Centrica Business Solutions is to optimise Eelpower’s 10MW Leverton storage project. The site in Lincoln, northern England, was commissioned in 2017, and was designed to provide balancing services to the National Grid.

It will be optimised in multiple markets using Centrica Business Solutions' FlexPond platform, which will identify opportunities to support the balancing of the grid network, both months in advance and in real time.

Louis Burford, head of optimisation at Centrica Business Solutions, said: “We know how vital battery storage will be for hitting the UK’s net zero commitments, but investor confidence remains low.

“By offering guaranteed returns and ensuring that the battery is active across numerous markets, we can unlock the returns that investors require for large scale energy infrastructure projects, and importantly stay within the battery’s warranty conditions.”

Eelpower has signed a fixed guaranteed return for a seven-year term with Centrica, with additional payments for every battery cycle above and beyond the guarantee starting on the first day of the contract.

Mark Simon, chief executive of Eelpower, said: “Having the certainty of return was a very attractive aspect of the proposition from Centrica Business Solutions. We’ve done our due diligence on their FlexPond platform and we’re confident that we’re putting our battery in safe hands.”

Centrica Business Solutions partnered with domestic battery storage company sonnen at the beginning of 2020, using its FlexPond platform to develop a virtual power plant.

EDF-SWGT by Alice Grundy, Centrica Business Solutions-Eelpower by Molly Lempriere. These stories first appeared on Current±.

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