A £4 million battery-based energy storage facility has been launched at Willenhall substation near Wolverhampton.
The facility, which has been connected to the grid, is owned and operated by the energy storage research team at the University of Sheffield as part of the Energy2050 initiative, in conjunction with partners at Aston University and the University of Southampton.
This dedicated national research facility has been designed to offer enhanced frequency response to peaks in demand and is available to be used by other academic and industrial projects
David Stone, director of the Willenhall facility
It is considered one of three of the largest batteries currently operational in the UK, and the first to use a lithium titanate battery, which, according to Sheffield University, was chosen because of its fast charge and discharge capabilities, and because it has a long lifetime.
There is also a suggestion that lithium titanate batteries are safer than alternatives such as lithium ion, the university added.
David Stone, director of the Willenhall facility, said: “As the demand for energy increases in the UK, storage systems are needed to balance supply. The first commercial projects are coming on line, but there are still many technical issues to be explored in order to maximise the potential of these technologies and to reduce costs.
“This dedicated national research facility has been designed to offer enhanced frequency response to peaks in demand and is available to be used by other academic and industrial projects for their research and to test new technologies.”
Alongside the facility’s opening last week, Stone also unveiled an innovation project with energy providers E.ON and Uniper.
“We will be using the facility to help develop their understanding of operating a lithium titanate battery,” Stone said.
Arne Hauner, head of innovation economics at Uniper, said the two companies planned on using the Willenhall battery system to provide ancillary services to the electricity network.
“The reason for doing this is to test the operation of a battery in a new market and to gain operational experience of a different battery storage technology compared to those which we currently operate,” Hauner added.