Batteries win big in National Grid’s energy storage auction

Out of 64 contracts awarded in the UK utility’s Enhanced Frequency Response tender, 61 went to battery systems, two to demand reduction and one to thermal generation.

Batteries won the majority of bids in National Grid’s auction to develop grid-scale projects to help stabilise an electric grid that is relying increasingly on renewable energy.

Of the 64 unique sites taking part in the UK utility’s Enhanced Frequency Response tender, 61 are for battery systems, two went to demand reduction and one for thermal generation.

Out of 37 developer proposals, National Grid awarded eight firms with four-year contracts to develop and build the technologies. EDF Energy Renewables won 40MW of projects; Vattenfall took 22MW, Low Carbon won two contracts for 10MW and 40MW, E.ON UK secured 10MW, Element Power won 25MW, RES won 35MW and Belectric was awarded 10MW.

The auction is a move for National Grid to provide a fast response to intermittent production from renewables connected to the UK’s electric grid. Renewables accounted for 24.6 percent of the UK’s total electricity generation in 2015, up 29 percent from 2014, according to the government data.

Adopting new technology to manage grid volatility has allowed response systems to cut reaction times from 10 seconds to under one second, National Grid said in a statement. The utility said the contracts awarded in this tender will help save around £200 million ($263 million; €234.3 million) over four years.

“We are constantly looking to the future to understand how we can make the most of the energy available to us,” National Grid’s director of systems operator Cordi O’Hara said in a statement. “These awards show that we can work with industry to bring forward new technology and I believe storage has much to contribute to the flexible energy system of tomorrow. This is the beginning of an exciting new chapter for the industry.”

Ratings agency Standard and Poor’s estimated in June the world will need 150GW of battery storage if it is to double the share of renewable power generation by 2030. It cited a report by the UK’s National Infrastructure Commission that stated the country could save £8 billion by adding to its grid a combination of technologies including interconnection, energy storage and demand flexibility.