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Irish state-owned utility ESB buys 7MWh stake in UK grid storage

The 7MWh Mill Farm battery facility in Grantham is ESB's first foray into utility-scale battery storage. Image: Anesco.

Irish state utility ESB has confirmed its entry into the UK grid-scale energy storage market with the purchase of a 7MWh facility from developer Anesco.

ESB (Electricity Supply Board) has acquired the Mill Farm battery storage project, based near Grantham in Lincolnshire, east central England, for an undisclosed sum, the two companies confirmed this morning.

The facility, funded and developed by Anesco, went live in April 2018. While the project was unsuccessful in its attempt to land a Capacity Market contract earlier this year, Anesco said it would be used to provide grid support services to transmission network operator National Grid.

Anesco will continue to monitor the site under its O&M arm. The company made a name for itself in energy storage industry reporting after it became one of the earliest renewables developers to co-locate battery storage with solar farms in the UK. This included a ruling in September 2017 that some of the company’s solar farms could retain existing accreditation for financial support under government schemes after the addition of energy storage.   

Jim Dollard, executive director of generation and wholesale markets at ESB, said the acquisition marked “another important milestone” for the utility and would enable it to develop enhanced expertise in battery storage.

“This will help to make electricity systems more stable and reliable, while allowing for enhanced performance and flexibility of our existing and future plant,” he added.

Mill Farm will complement ESB’s existing range of electricity generation assets in the UK, which includes two CCGT plants, three onshore wind farms and a biomass facility.

It’s not ESB’s first foray into energy storage, however. In December 2017, the utility’s networks division threw its support behind StoreNet, a demonstrator project in Dingle which involves the installation of domestic batteries and linking them to form a virtual power plant (VPP).

This was followed up in April this year with a foray into commercial and industrial (C&I), as ESB took on the ownership and commercial operations of a 2MW Tesla battery at a glass packaging plant in Irvine, west Scotland. That project helps the glass company, Ardagh Glass, to lower its electricity costs, without Ardagh having to take on any investment risk.  

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