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‘Fascinating challenges’ overcome by Vattenfall as UK EFR battery goes online

Vattenfall’s 22MW battery@pyc project has been completed at the 228MW Pen y Cymoedd onshore wind farm. Image: Vattenfall / Steve Pope.

Vattenfall has brought online its 22MW battery project co-located with the Pen y Cymoedd onshore wind farm in Wales, becoming the latest company to start delivering sub-second frequency response to National Grid in the UK.

Vattenfall’s 'battery@pyc' is one of eight projects to have won an Enhanced Frequency Response (EFR) contract back in 2016 when National Grid, Britain's transmission operator, held a 200MW tender process. It is only the fourth to have been publically confirmed as operational following announcements from E.On in October and VLC Energy back in January.

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When Solar Media's UK clean energy news website Current visited the site in October 2017, the Swedish company were targeting completion on 28 February of this year. However according to Nick Entwistle, Vattenfall’s battery@pyc construction project manager, the technical challenges of delivering the company’s first battery project in the UK meant more time was required to deliver the project.

“The co-location battery prototype at PyC presented fascinating electrical engineering challenges. Solving these challenges provided us with a great learning experience which we will take to our next installation,” he explained.

“The challenges did mean that we amended our schedule – agreed with National Grid – and included more difficult than expected ground conditions, bad weather on site and integrating the battery into the windfarm’s electrical network.”

Now operational, the battery is believed to be the largest in the UK to have been co-located with an onshore wind farm, sharing the electrical infrastructure of the 76 turbine site, generating 228MW.

Claus Wattendrup, head of business unit Solar & Batteries, said: “This is Vattenfall’s largest battery installation to date, where we make use of synergies at our existing wind farms sites – such as at Pen y Cymoedd or the Princess Alexia Wind Farm in the Netherlands. Hybrid renewable parks will play a larger role in the future and we are leading this development.”

The site uses batteries previously destined for BMW i3 electric vehicles that will now be used to help National Grid maintain frequency levels and reliability of electricity supply on the (Great Britain) GB transmission network.

With the EFR battery now successfully completed, Vattenfall has suggested that it will seek out similar projects globally, with the head of Vattenfall’s wind business Gunnar Groebler previously praising the flexibility of battery technology in providing certainty over the business case for such projects in the future.

Speaking today he said: “Vattenfall is on the road to a smart, digitalised future, free from fossil fuels within just one generation. I can think of few other energy installations that better demonstrates what that future looks like than battery@pyc.”

It is not clear when the remaining EFR batteries will be publically known to have been completed. EDF’s 50MW West Burton project is expected within weeks, while news on Foresight’s two projects totalling 45MW and Enel’s 25MW Tynemouth battery has so far been lacking.

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