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UK ROUNDUP: Utility-scale, remote grid and virtual power plant energy storage news from Britain

Social Energy’s AI-backed technology optimises an interconnected network of smart and clean energy assets, including participation in grid-services and balancing markets. Image: Social Energy.

27 January 2021: UK developer Eelpower partners up with infrastructure investor SUSI Partners 

UK energy storage and renewables developer Eelpower has formed a joint venture (JV) with Switzerland-headquartered sustainable infrastructure investor SUSI Partners to construct and operate a pipeline of new-build battery storage assets in Britain.

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The first of these will be a 50MW project at Dunsinane, near Dundee, Scotland, which is set to start construction in February. Additionally, SUSI purchased 40MW of the company’s existing storage assets as part of the JV, with Eelpower to continue to manage the assets.

Eelpower CEO, Mark Simon, said the company is delighted to be working with SUSI Partners as part of the Swiss company’s first investment in the UK’s energy storage market. SUSI has been investing in the North America market over the past couple of years and is thought to have created the first dedicated energy storage infrastructure fund in the world. Past activities include investing in a portfolio of behind-the-meter battery storage assets in the western LA Basin of California and financing just under US$100 million of commercial and industrial energy storage projects in Ontario, Canada. Meanwhile Eelpower recently closed a funding round.

“The establishment of this joint venture comes at an important moment in the development of the UK electricity system. We look forward to working with them and the best route-to-market counterparties as we construct and operate a portfolio of high-performance grid-connected storage assets on our way to building a 1GW electricity storage utility,” Eelpower CEO Simon said.

Since installing its first co-located batteries in 2014, Eelpower and its sister companies have grown their portfolio to six grid-connected battery energy storage sites of 34MW.

This story first appeared on Solar Power Portal

28 January 2021: Wärtsilä to deploy large-scale battery storage system on Shetland Isles 

Power technology group Wärtsilä is to deliver an 8MW/6MWh energy storage system on the remote Shetland Islands off the coast of Scotland.

The system will be installed at the Lerwich Power Station for Scottish and Southern Electricity Networks (SSEN) Distribution, which will use it for balancing services and reserve power for the islands.

The agreement builds on a “long-lasting business relationship” between Wärtsilä and SSEN said Bent Iversen, senior business development manager at Wärtsilä Energy.

“We are very pleased to continue this cooperation by deploying our advanced energy storage system at Lerwick Power Station, which makes us part of Shetland Islands’ energy system. The GridSolv Max energy storage solution will support the power station’s spinning reserve functionality and can provide black start back-up,” Iversen said.

Under a full engineering, procurement and construction contract, Wärtsilä will deliver the system including the company’s GridSolv Max product. This is a standardised energy solution that provides modular storage, including batteries, a safety and fire system and inverters, as well as the proprietary energy management platform GEMS.

Wärtsilä will provide maintenance for the software and hardware components through a 10 year service agreement. Lerwich is the main generator of electricity on the island, and the storage system will provide spinning reserve capacity as well as facilitate an increase in wind generation on the island. SSEN Distribution is investing in Lerwich to secure power until Shetland is connected to Britain’s grid, explained Darren Hitchin, embedded generation manager at the power station.

This story first appeared on Solar Power Portal

28 January 2021: Residential virtual power plant provider Social Energy pursuing further international expansion following investment 

Social Energy, a UK-headquartered virtual power plant (VPP) platform and renewable energy utility, has received a significant investment from fund manager CarVal Investor to grow its business and enter new markets.

The company uses artificial intelligence (AI) and virtual power plant technology to optimise its customers' solar-connected battery storage, monitoring energy usage and managing storage and distribution to minimise customer bills. The investment will allow the company to expand its offering to include other smart electrical products such as hot water takes and electric vehicles.

Additionally, Social Energy will use the investment from the Australian investor to expand globally, including into continental Europe, North American and Asia. This follows the British company entering the Australian market in November 2020 thanks to a partnership with Duracell.

Richard Smith, CEO of Social Energy, said the investment was an “exciting development” that would allow the company to move onto the next stage of its story.

Social Energy currently has over 6,000 customers, but said there is ample opportunity to grow its customer base with a million homes in the UK and 2.5 million in Australia that already have solar panels.

In the UK, the company has used its fleet of customer batteries to trade Fast Frequency Response, becoming the first company to gain a fully domestic contract. Using its AI platform for managing technology like this can help provide additional revenue streams for customers by meeting the growing need for flexibility.

CarVal Investors’ funding was completed in December 2020, and will see Stuart Lammin, principal at CarVal Investors, join the board of Social Energy with immediate effect.

This story first appeared on Current±

Additional reporting for by Andy Colthorpe. 

Our publisher Solar Media will be hosting the Energy Storage Summit 2021 in an exciting new format on 23-24 February and again on 3-4 March. See the website for more details

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