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London council ‘proves commercial scale energy storage works in the UK’

Credit: LG Solar
A local authority in London has procured a solar-plus-storage installation which the supplier claims will demonstrate that the technology can work at commercial scale in the UK.

The London Borough of Hounslow has installed what it claims to be the largest PV array of any local authority in the UK at 1.73MW capacity, alongside four 60kWh lithium ion batteries from Germany-based commercial battery system provider Tesvolt. The system will provide the site of Western International Market (WIM), west London’s largest wholesale market for fresh produce and flowers, with around half of its 3.5MWh yearly energy requirements.

Christian Went, international account manager, Tesvolt, told Energy-Storage.News that the installation is a “big milestone” for the whole energy infrastructure of the UK and demonstrates a profitable application of storage at commercial-scale.

Went said: “So far, for the commercial scale [projects], there simply haven’t been the technical requirements available, such as being able to run high currents on the existing energy storage systems.

“With a Tesvolt solution, commercial and industrial customers can now cover these requirements and have the possibilities to increase their self-sufficiency rate of renewables, implement an emergency supply function, or simply do frequency balancing and/or peak-shaving.”

LG Electronics, Imtech, Sunstruck Energy, SolarEdge, Tesvolt, and Revolution Energy Services were all involved in the project.  LG Solar provided more than 6,000 panels and SolarEdge was responsible for the inverter.

The system, which required £2 million (US$2.9 million) investment to install, is expected to save the borough costs of £148,000 and provide a further £107,000 from generation and export tariffs each year.

Tesvolt storage systems. Image: Tesvolt.
The economics of controlling electricity

The system, which required £2 million (US$2.9 million) investment to install, is expected to save the borough costs of £148,000 and provide a further £107,000 from generation and export tariffs each year.

Went said that in order to lower the export of electricity to the national grid, control is achieved via an energy meter within each of the substations, which is sensitive to flow directions. Whenever the energy meter measures less electricity demand from the consumers than electricity generation from the rooftop, the PV energy is charged to Tesvolt´s 240kWh of energy storage capacity.

Control of electricity flow is important because a large part of the electrical demand at the market comes from recharging fork lift trucks, after working with them for eight hours at a time. Meanwhile, the batteries help to reduce stress on the UK’s whole grid infrastructure by using the solar-generated power mainly in peak demand hours, said Went.

He added: “Being the largest energy storage system in London now and incorporating Tesvolt´s groundbreaking bi-directional management of lithium cells, the project will work as an example for other councils to push a widespread adoption of integrated solar energy with battery storage.”

Charles Pipe, energy manager at London Borough of Hounslow, said: “From the very beginning, this project has been about reducing our carbon footprint and making an investment for the future. But we have achieved so much more than that. Not only can we expect to see immediate savings on our electricity bills, but we are expecting to see a return on this investment in about five years.”

That payback period of five years would place the install significantly ahead of traditional installations, which have seen returns capped at around 5% under the government’s new feed-in tariff regime. 

Earlier this month, utility E.ON and battery storage engineers redT partnered to install a demonstration solar-plus-storage system at the HQ of warehousing and logistics firm JB Wheaton in Somerset, England. The system, designed specifically for commercial and industrial (C&I) applications, will pair a redT Vanadium Redox Flow Battery with JB Wheaton’s 3.5MW solar system.

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