UK’s Pivot Power brings online 5MWh flow battery at ‘world’s largest hybrid project’

By Alice Grundy
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Invinity’s vanadium flow battery tech at the site, where a 50MWh lithium-ion battery storage system has been in operation for a few months already. Image: Invinity Energy Systems.

Flow battery company Invinity Energy Systems, alongside developer Pivot Power, has fully energised the UK’s largest flow battery, located in Oxford, England.

It forms part of the £41 million (US$54.2 million) Energy Superhub Oxford (ESO) project, which is set to support the city’s goal of being zero carbon by 2040 or earlier, by integrating rapid electric vehicle (EV) charging, hybrid battery storage, low carbon heating and smart energy management technologies.

As such, the 5MWh flow battery will combine with a 50MWh Wärtsilä lithium-ion battery energy storage system (BESS) to operate as a single energy storage asset, with the lithium-ion component actived in June.

This will make it not only will the largest directly-transmission-connected battery installed in the UK to date, but also the largest vanadium flow and lithium-ion hybrid battery ever deployed, Invinity said.

This hybrid approach to energy storage is designed to leverage the strengths of each technology in order to increase grid resiliency and create a smarter, more flexible energy system. 

In the ESO hybrid energy storage system, Invinity’s vanadium flow batteries are used to ‘front-end’ the energy asset, acting as a first line of response when the system is called into service. This means that the lithium-ion battery will only get called into service after the required response exceeds the capacity of the Invinity battery.

The Invinity flow battery therefore performs much of the ‘heavy-lifting’ while reducing the wear on the lithium-ion battery, with the flow battery not degrading with use, meaning it can cycle indefinitely.

“Energising the largest flow battery in the UK marks a proud moment for Invinity, but even more important is how this innovative project is a model for cities worldwide,” Larry Zulch, chief executive officer at Invinity said.

“It demonstrates that energy storage pioneers such as Pivot Power can collaborate with local government to deliver a future-proofed, flexible grid that supports the renewable energy transition and the shift to an electrified, net zero future.”

Late last month, work began on the EV charging hub element of the project, with this lauded as the UK’s largest. The site is to see the installation of 10 Fastned chargers with up to 300kW of power, 16 Gamma Energy chargers with between 7-22kW of power and 12 250kW Tesla Superchargers.

Two other Superhubs, both located in the West Midlands, are now also in the works, with Pivot Power having continued its partnership with Wärtsilä. The two are to develop 100MW/200MWh of battery storage split across the sites.

This story first appeared on Current±.

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